Humanities

Little Red Riding Hood

Alberto Manguel— There are characters whose name reveals their skin color (Snow White), their ability (Spiderman), their size (Thumbelina). Others, their dress. A short blood-colored cape defines the adventurous girl dreamt up by Charles Perrault towards the end of the seventeenth century. She has a whiff of the guileless temptress,

Continue reading…

Tragedy

Terry Eagleton— All art has a political dimension, but tragedy actually began life as a political institution. Indeed, for Hannah Arendt it is the political art par excellence. Only in theatre, she writes, ‘is the political sphere of human life transposed into art’. In fact, ancient Greek tragedy is not

Continue reading…

A Conversation with Patrick Modiano

The latest work from Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, Invisible Ink is a spellbinding tale of memory and its illusions. Private detective Jean Eyben receives an assignment to locate a missing woman, the mysterious Noëlle Lefebvre. While the case proves fruitless, the clues Jean discovers along the way continue to haunt him.

Continue reading…

In Timbuktu with Jean Paul de Dadelsen

Two thousand and eleven, when palm trees without numberRustled, shading tomatoes and cucumbersAll around Timbuktu,And mental trees, planted by the town council,Offered orchards to every studious sibylAnd to sleepers too! This is the opening stanza of “The Orchards of Timbuktu” by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, translated from the French by Marilyn

Continue reading…

Beethoven’s ‘Last Musical Thought’

Laura Tunbridge— In 1840, the Berlin publisher Heinrich Schlesinger published a short piano piece as the Dernière pensée musicale de Louis van Beethoven. It was not, in fact, Beethoven’s “last musical thought”; it was not even the first time it had been published. The same music had appeared in a supplement

Continue reading…

Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan

Anthony T. Kronman— I can now see that my anxious wish to master my world in thought has from the start been a longing to understand its relation to eternity, but without a God of the sort to whom Christians, Jews and Muslims pray. This is an intellectual longing, of

Continue reading…

In the Olive Orchard with Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello, the great twentieth-century Italian playwright, was also a maestro of the short story. In Virginia Jewiss’ introduction to her new translation of Pirandello’s short stories, she writes, “The Pirandello we meet here is a master storyteller, with an ear for dialogue, an eye for revealing details, and a keen sense of the crushing burdens of class,

Continue reading…

The Brainiest Club in the World

Michael Wheeler— When John Wilson Croker, First Secretary to the Admiralty, wrote to Sir Humphry Davy, the leading British scientist of the day, on March 12, 1823, he continued an earlier conversation with him: “I will take this opportunity of repeating the proposition I have before made to you about

Continue reading…

Deep Reading to Stay Alive

Harold Bloom— In what sense does deep reading augment life? Can it render death only another hoyden? Most literary representations of death do not portray her as being particularly boisterous. Why “her”? Is it the long cavalcade associating death and the mother? I have learned from Epicurus and Lucretius what

Continue reading…

Nothing is Where I Work

Eileen Myles— The second detail pertaining to the invite I received to give this talk is that I have been living in an apartment in New York for forty-two years so that’s where most of my life has occurred. My living, my thinking, my copying. It’s one of those East

Continue reading…