Sigmund Freud’s Civilization And Its Discontents

Civilization And Its Discontents, although among the last of Freud’s output, remains amongst his most influential and widely read works, probably because it does not stand or fall on Freudian psychoanalytic theory but can profitably be read as a philosophical […]

John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty

John Stuart Mill was one of the 19th century’s most important philosophers and a paragon of academic devotion and moral rigor. He wrote extensively on the social issues of the day, particularly on slavery and women’s rights, and defended his […]

Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies

Evelyn Waugh was a British journalist and author known for his biting social satire and his unfortunate personal failings (racist, elitist, fascist sympathizer…the list is long). Nevertheless, he remains one of the great English comic writers and his second novel, Vile […]

George Saunders’ The Braindead Megaphone

George Saunders’ The Braindead Megaphone is a collection of (largely) non-fiction essays collected from publications like GQ and The New Yorker. This is Saunders’ first non-fiction collection, but I doubt it will be his last: the formula is to take work for which an author […]

Paul Mariani’s The Broken Tower: The Life Of Hart Crane

I arrived at Mariani’s biography courtesy of Harold Bloom, who of all living critics must surely have the deepest and most abiding love for Hart Crane, having discovered him when he was only ten years old. Crane is a haunting […]

William Giraldi’s Busy Monsters

I have fallen in love with William Giraldi. I discovered him haphazardly during an insomnia-fueled whirlwind tour of literary blogs I frequent. Amidst the usual detritus was an essay entitled “Letter to a Young Critic,” which gave me the uncomfortable […]

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson may very well be the most talented man you have never heard of. He was a  professional football player, internationally recognized star of stage and screen, civil rights advocate of high moral principle and remarkably little regard for […]

Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler published The Big Sleep, his first novel, in 1939, when he was already 50 years old, but that did not stop him from revitalizing the detective story and inventing a new genre, gritty and dark and cynical. Cinephiles use […]

Franz Kafka’s The Castle

The Castle is one of Kafka’s three unfinished novels and, together with The Trial and “The Metamorphosis,” widely regarded as his masterwork. The plot, in brief: a man named K., a land surveyor by trade, is called into a village at the behest […]

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall was published in late 2009 to great critical acclaim, winning both a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize; its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, appeared just last year, and it too won the Booker Prize. […]