When I was an undergraduate, long ago, there was a legend at my college concerning a student who was up for a summa cum laude degree in English literature and failed not only to garner that high honor but to receive an honors degree at all. According to the legend, this happened because, during his oral exams, he confessed that he had never read the multivolume novel Middlemarchby British author George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).Read More
The books of Republican politicians might be described as political romances. Harboring fantasies of an electorate falling in love with them, they come bearing a dowry of policy prescriptions donated by right-wing think tanks. These books occupy a world of willful delusion, where, in 200 or so generously spaced pages, the enemies of liberty can be quickly identified and dispatched by the author, an errant knight guiding the reader through the hopelessly debauched milieu of American governance.Read More
Seven years ago, when Amazon was in the midst of a contentious pricing battle with one of the country’s largest publishers, a group of famous authors banded together to make the case that publishing was a crucial industry for the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.
“Publishers provide venture capital for ideas,” the authors wrote.
In a 1981 speech to the boards of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, President Ronald Reagan expressed one of the central ideas of the coming era. “The societies which have achieved the most spectacular, broad-based economic progress … believe in the magic of the marketplace.
The titular narrator of Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, is a robot. This isn’t spoiler—this revelation comes early in the book. Klara is an Artificial Friend, a lifelike but nevertheless mechanical companion for children: amalgam of sibling, plaything, and nursemaid. When we meet her, she’s inventory in a showroom.
One night in 2016, during “a crack-fueled, cross-country odyssey” that he recalls in his new memoir, Beautiful Things, Hunter Biden saw an owl. He had already totaled one rental car that trip. Suddenly, “an enormous barn owl … swooped over my windshield, as if dropped straight from the inky night sky.Read More
The last time Stephen Hawking was ever uncertain about his fame was before a lecture in Cambridge, in the winter of 1988. Even then, really, he should have been in no doubt. In previous years, he’d been profiled by Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine, and the BBC had run shows about his work. Then, that past April, his book on cosmology, Read originalRead More
The twentieth century ushered in the age of the uncanny. The concept, of course, has always been with us, as we see from the earliest of the surviving great epics, Gilgamesh, haunted as it is by the ghostly and the ghastly, by the terror of death-in-life and life-in-death. Freud in his essay Das Unheimliche identifies the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A Democratic president takes power amid a national crisis, his power bolstered by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. The economy is in the tubes, people across the country are hurting, and the ever more radical Republican Party doesn’t seem to care.