Christopher Benfey

Gustave Flaubert Was Not A Realist
May 08, 2014

Despite what you may have been taught. 

Malcolm Cowley Was One of the Best Literary Tastemakers of the Twentieth Century. Why Were His Politics So Awful?
February 28, 2014

Malcolm Cowley did as much as anyone to shape the literary canon of the last century. Why did he hold onto Soviet Communism long after other American intellectuals had given it up?

Rudyard Kipling Was a Great American
December 06, 2013

Rudyard Kipling’s creations in verse and prose are among the most familiar in the English language.

Willa Cather's Correspondence Reveals Something New
October 12, 2013

If there is a secret lurking in Cather’s correspondence, it might be this: her best writing, certainly in her letters and in much of her fiction, is driven by anger.

Michael Cardew: The Potter as Great Modern Artist
June 03, 2013

What might a heroic life in the world of traditional crafts have looked like during the twentieth century? The question almost seems absurd.

Becoming T. S. Eliot, for Better and for Worse
March 04, 2013

Now that we know so much about Eliot, are we still so curious about him?

Tarzan turns 100
October 05, 2012

What the Spanish-American War can tell us about the ideological core of the original Tarzan story:

The Alibi of Ambiguity
June 07, 2012

Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy DilemmaBy Barbara Will (Columbia University Press, 274 pp., $35)   IdaBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Logan Esdale (Yale University Press, 348 pp., $20)   Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected EditionBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Susannah Hollister and Emily Setina (Yale University Press, 379 pp., $22) ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1951, an oddly dressed young woman appeared in an alley adjacent to the municipal hospital in Angers, a town southwest of Paris.

The Blooming Foreigner
November 23, 2011

“Something Urgent I Have to Say to You”: The Life and Works of William Carlos WilliamsBy Herbert Leibowitz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 496 pp., $40)  William Carlos Williams, among the most aggressively American poets since Walt Whitman, was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883, to a Puerto Rican mother and an English father, neither of whom bothered to become American citizens after their transplantation from the Caribbean to the poisonous industrial marshes west of Manhattan.

In Praise of Tranströmer the Transformer—and His Translator, Robert Bly
October 07, 2011

“Tranströmer!” Of course, I knew immediately what the email message meant.