Essay

The Truth About Our Libertarian Age
Why the dogma of democracy doesn't always make the world better
June 17, 2014

Why the dogma of democracy doesn't always make the world better

From the Archives: Roger Rosenblatt Remembers His Father
June 12, 2014

"My father believed in hats as signs of civilization."

I Don’t Miss Smoking. But I Miss Smoke
Its chiffon convolutions and tulle thunderheads made perfectly dull places seem excitingly mysterious.
May 30, 2014

The chiffon convolutions and tulle thunderheads of my cigarettes made even dull places seem excitingly mysterious.

The True Story of America's First Black Female Slave Novelist
The woman behind 'The Bondwoman's Narrative'
February 10, 2014

The once-unidentified writer of The Bondwoman's Narrative, and a stunning story that goes from North Carolina to revolutionary Nicaragua to the free North.

The Crisis in Contemporary Ballet
How emotion left dance
October 04, 2013

It is mystifying to find choreographers today taking form so seriously but leaving feeling behind. Is this a slow trailing off from modernism or a misconceived tribute to the idea of abstraction, or is it the beginning of a new way of thinking?

My Memories of Seamus Heaney
October 03, 2013

In his eulogy of Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon told the story of being asked at Customs, on his arrival for the funeral, what he did for a living; when he replied that he taught poetry, the Customs officer said, “You must be devastated.”

Poets and Czars
From Pushkin to Putin: the sad tale of democracy in Russia
July 01, 2013

The “other” Russia, the Russia of poets and writers, the Russia of culture, destroyed in the Soviet Union, was preserved underground and in emigration. Will it help to give Russia its third chance at democracy?

The Strange Power of Les Mis, the Book
Victor Hugo's Hard-nosed Melodrama
March 02, 2013

Why the most dramatic parts of Les Misérables are also the most politically incisive.

 

The New Essayists, or the Decline of a Form?
David Sedaris and a literary version of reality TV
February 18, 2013

“The essay, as a literary form, is pretty well extinct,” Philip Larkin wrote gloomily in 1984. Extinct was the right word, capturing the sense of an organism that could no longer survive in a changed environment.