Literature

Winter Nights

Francis Spufford— Here comes the winter night. If we were our oldest ancestors, tucked into draughty recesses of caves with blue hands hugged around us as we slept, we’d be dreaming of summer: we’d be using our human freedom to step away from circumstances to wish that all mornings were

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Why Munch Painted

Karl Ove Knausgaard— I knew why Munch painted, I knew it so well that I could articulate it with a single sentence. And it resembles the sentence spoken by the author with his sweater tucked into his trousers. I write because I am going to die.  I paint because I

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Seduced by Characters—Q&A with Alberto Manguel

Yale University Press: What is your earliest memory of connecting deeply with a literary character? How old were you, who was it, and what do you remember feeling at the time? Alberto Manguel: Because I learned to read when I was about four, my earliest remembered stories are those of

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Why Jewish Writers Avoid the “Jewish Writer” Label

Adam Kirsch— Several years ago, I moderated a discussion between two novelists at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The setting seemed appropriate, since these were Jewish writers who wrote about Jewish characters and themes. But when I asked them if they considered themselves Jewish novelists, both answered emphatically

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Oppenheim’s Library: A Window into Jewish Culture

Joshua Teplitsky— In January of 2019, Netflix launched a new television program for audiences who had enjoyed previous “home improvement” style shows about living more efficiently with greater style and less clutter called “Tidying up with Marie Kondo.” The show’s primary goal was to help people get rid of unnecessary

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Understanding Literacy

Beth Barton Schweiger— The power of literacy’s hold on the modern imagination cannot easily be measured. One way to begin to comprehend it is to pose a question: who is against it? From local school boards to Capitol Hill to the United Nations General Assembly, the consensus that literacy empowers

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Why We Read

Azar Nafisi— Reading is like Alice running after that white rabbit, because she is curious; she wants to know more about a talking rabbit. She is prepared to take the risk and jump down that hole without knowing what she will find at the bottom of the well. This is

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Dante’s Pioneering Poetry and Science

Tracy Daugherty— “At some deep level, poetry and physics are similar endeavors,” writes Mark A. Peterson, a mathematician and science historian. Both the poet and the scientist use the tools of their craft—words, numbers—to discover core truths about the nature and shape of the universe and humanity’s place in it. 

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A Time to Write and a Time to Resist

David G. Roskies— Writing, we are told, is a form of resistance. The act of writing is an assertion of one’s selfhood, one’s right to live, think and feel in the face of all that negates it. But writing can just as easily be an escape from reality, an exercise

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On Books and Libraries

Alberto Manguel— I would argue that public libraries, holding  both virtual and material texts, are an essential instrument to counter loneliness. I would defend their place as society’s memory and experience. I would say that without public libraries, and without a conscious understanding of their role, a society of the

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