Essays

Keep Smiling

Jan Morris

An agnostic sermon

On Visitors

Ann Beattie

When the Bachelor Girl and the Red Death come calling, are they mirrors for our eccentricities?

The Presence of Absence

Bethany Vaccaro

Our losses give vitality to our lives

A Whole Day Nearer Now

Doris Grumbach

But all life’s passion not quite spent

At Sixty-Five

Emily Fox Gordon

After the excesses of youth and terrors of middle age, a writer faces the contingencies of being old

One Road

Donald Hall

Driving through postwar Yugoslavia was nearly impossible, but a young poet and his new wife struggled through the desolate landscape to Athens

Kodachrome Eden

James Santel

With purple prose and oversaturated images, National Geographic reimagined postwar America as a dreamspace of hope and fascination

On Friendship

Edward Hoagland

The intimacies shared with our closest companions keep us anchored, vital, and alive

Mortify Our Wolves

Christian Wiman

The struggle back to life and faith in the face of pain and the certainty of death

Joyas Volardores

Brian Doyle

Rites of Passage

Steve Macone

When a quirky old man who lived on the Cape died, I thought I didn’t care

The Complete Zinsser on Friday

William Zinsser

Congratulations to William Zinsser, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award in the category of Digital Commentary

Affirmative Inaction

William M. Chace

Opposition to affirmative action has drastically reduced minority enrollment at public universities; private institutions have the power and the responsibility to reverse the trend

A Jew in the Northwest

William Deresiewicz

Exile, ethnicity, and the search for the perfect futon

Dubya and Me

Walt Harrington

Over the course of a quarter-century, a journalist witnessed the transformation of George W. Bush

LBJ’s Wild Ride

Ernest B. Furgurson

Hanging on for dear life during the 1960 campaign

The Psychologist

Brian Boyd

Vladimir Nabokov's understanding of human nature anticipated the advances in psychology since his day

Scar Tissue

Emily Bernard

When I was stabbed 17 years ago in a New Haven coffee shop, the wounds did not only come from the knife

A Mother’s Secret

Werner Gundersheimer

The images in a treasured photo album preserve an idealized past, while leaving out the painful story of a family torn apart by the Holocaust

Making Sparks Fly

Mike Rose

How occupational education can lead to a love of learning for its own sake

In the Orbit of Copernicus

Owen Gingerich

A discovery of the great astronomer's bones, and their reburial in Poland

Plunging to Earth

Robert Zaretsky

Once the sport of daredevils, skydiving now offers it existential thrills to grandmothers, pudgy geeks, and even the occasional college professor

The Forgotten Churchill

George Watson

The man who stared down Hitler also helped create the modern welfare state

Plucked from the Grave

Debra Gwartney

The first female missionary to cross the Continental Divide came to a gruesome end partly caused by her own zeal. What can we learn from her?

Civil Warfare in the Streets

Adam Goodheart

After Fort Sumter, German immigrants in St. Louis flocked to the Union cause and in bloody confrontations overthrew the local secessionists

How Longfellow Woke the Dead

Jill Lepore

When first published 150 years ago, his famous poem about Paul Revere was read as a bold statement of his opposition to slavery

Interview with a Neandertal

Priscilla Long

What I always wanted to ask our distant cousins about love and death and sorrow and dinner

‘I Tried to Stop the Bloody Thing’

Adam Hochschild

In World War I, nearly as many British men refused the draft—20,000—as were killed on the Somme's first day. Why were those who fought for peace forgotten?

The View from 90

Doris Grumbach

Even when those in my generation have reached a state of serenity, wisdom, and relative comfort, what we face can hardly be called the golden years

Baseball’s Loss of Innocence

Douglas Goetsch

When the 1919 Black Sox scandal shattered Ring Lardner’s reverence for the game, the great sportswriter took a permanent walk

Unauthorized, But Not Untrue

Kitty Kelley

The real story of a biographer in a celebrity culture of public denials, media timidity, and legal threats

Empathy and Other Mysteries

Richard Restak

Neuroscientists are discovering things about the brain that answer questions philosophers have been asking for centuries

To Accept What Cannot Be Helped

Ann Hulbert

At 80, a woman with a fatal disease knows she doesn't want to die in the hospital and discovers, with her family, what that really means

The Seduction

Paula Marantz Cohen

After years of favoring the endurance-test approach to teaching literature, a professor focuses on how to make books spark to life for her students

The Passionate Encounter

Alfred Kazin

A noted midcentury critic has much to say in his journal about his fellow writers and the literary world they shared

Reassessing Rossellini

Joseph Luzzi

Restoration of Rome Open city, the director’s masterpiece, prompts a look at why he later retreated from the neorealism it introduced

Prozac for the Planet

Christopher Cokinos

Can geoengineering make the climate happy?

Every Last One

Brad Edmondson

A guy with a weakness for demography goes door to door for the census and discovers what a democracy is made of

Wonderlust

Tony Hiss

"Deep Travel" opens our minds to the rich possibilities of ordinary experience

Blowdown

Tamara Dean

When a tornado tears through a beloved landscape, is it possible to just let nature heal itself?

We’ll Always Have McSorley’s

Robert Day

How Joseph Mitchell's wonderful saloon became a sacred site for a certain literary pilgrim

What the Earth Knows

Robert B. Laughlin

Understanding the concept of geologic time and some basic science can give a new perspective on climate change and the energy future

All Style, No Substance

Amitai Etzioni

What’s wrong with the State Department’s public diplomacy effort

Too Bad Not to Fail

William J. Quirk

Just what are derivatives, and how much more damage can they do?

Voices of a Nation

Brenda Wineapple

In the 19th century, American writers struggled to discover who they were and who we are

Hive of Nerves

Christian Wiman

To be alive spiritually is to feel the ultimate anxiety of existence within the trivial anxieties of everyday life

The Bearable Lightness of Being

Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough

If you live long enough and contentedly enough in exile, your feelings of estrangement can evolve into a sense of living two lives at once

Solitude and Leadership

William Deresiewicz

If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts

Reading in a Digital Age

Sven Birkerts

Notes on why the novel and the Internet are opposites, and why the latter both undermines the former and makes it more necessary

Nabokov Lives On

Brian Boyd

Why his unfinished novel, Laura, deserved to be published; what’s left in the voluminous archive of his unpublished work

They Get to Me

Jessica Love

A young psycholinguist confesses her strong attraction to pronouns

When the Light Goes On

Mike Rose

How a great teacher can bring a receptive mind to life

To Die of Having Lived

Richard Rapport

A neurological surgeon reflects on what patients and their families should and should not do when the end draws near

My Brain on My Mind

Priscilla Long

The ABCs of the thrumming, plastic mystery that allows us to think, feel, and remember

The Stolen Election

Gelareh Asayesh

An expatriate Iranian writer travels her troubled homeland in the weeks after a disputed presidential vote

Seventy Years Later

John Lukacs

The Second World War destroyed Adolf Hitler, but his legacy is showing disturbing signs of life

Strange Matter

John Olson

The physics and poetics of the search for the God particle

Wrestling with Two Behemoths

Ved Mehta

A longtime New Yorker, and New Yorker writer, gets the cold shoulder from powerful New York cultural institutions

Writing About Writers

Bob Thompson

Covering the book beat

The Doctor Is IN

Daniel B. Smith

At 88, Aaron Beck is now revered for an approach to psychotherapy that pushed Freudian analysis aside

A Mindful Beauty

Joel E. Cohen

What poetry and applied mathematics have in common

Armchair Travelers

Toby Lester

The Renaissance writers and humanists Petrarch and Boccaccio turned to geography to understand the works of antiquity

Mother Country

Evelyn Toynton

A daughter examines a life played out in romantic defiance of bad fortune

Not Ready for Mt. Rushmore

Matthew Dallek

Reconciling the myth of Ronald Reagan with the reality

Shock Waves

Bethany Vaccaro

A blast in Baghdad tests the endurance of a soldier and his family

The Devil You Know

John B. Renehan

Keeping the peace in Ramadi calls for a little moral dexterity

Blue-Collar Brilliance

Mike Rose

Questioning assumptions about intelligence, work, and social class

Enough Already

Mark Edmundson

What I'd really like to tell the bores in my life

Words Apart

Witold Rybczynski

A writer in Quebec finds that language creates an unbridgeable divide

Any Way You Slice It

Rob Gurwitt

Sundays at the community oven aren't just about the pizza

Saratoga Bill

Zachary Sklar

He bet cautiously at the track, but elsewhere he was drawn to those with the odds stacked against them

The Terminator Comes to Wall Street

Joseph Fuller

How computer modeling worsened the financial crisis and what we ought to do about it

Purpose-Driven Life

Brian Boyd

Evolution does not rob life of meaning, but creates meaning. It also makes possible our own capacity for creativity.

Second Chances, Social Forgiveness, and the Internet

Amitai Etzioni

We need the means, both technological and legal, to replace measures once woven into the fabric of communities

The Potency of Breathless

Paula Marantz Cohen

At 50, Godard’s film still asks how something this bad can be so good

The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Lincoln

Ernest B. Furgurson

The hatter Boston Corbett was celebrated as a hero for killing John Wilkes Booth. Fame and fortune did not follow, but madness did.

Visions and Revisions

William Zinsser

Writing On Writing Well and keeping it up-to-date for 35 years

Dawn of a Literary Friendship

John McIntyre

In 1969 the writer Robert Phelps first wrote to the novelist James Salter. Here are the letters that forged a bond of two decades.

I Wanted to Be Robert Phelps

Michael Dirda

The Dowser Dilemma

Kate Daloz

How a town in Vermont found water it desperately needed and an explanation that was harder to swallow

Putting Man Before Descartes

John Lukacs

Human knowledge is personal and participant—placing us at the center of the universe

The Future of the American Frontier

John Tirman

Can one of our most enduring national myths, much in evidence in the recent presidential campaign, be reinvented yet again?

Affirmative Action and After

W. Ralph Eubanks

Now is the time to reconsider a policy that must eventually change. But simply replacing race with class isn’t the solution.

Spies Among Us

Clay Risen

Military snooping on civilians, which escalated in the turbulent '60s, never entirely went away and is back again on a much larger scale

A Country for Old Men

Edward Hoagland

Having reached the shores of seniority himself, the author finds a surprising contentment in the eyes of his fellow retirees

Collateral Damage

Robert Roper

The Civil War only enhanced George Whitman's soldierly satisfaction; for his brother Walt, however, the horrors halted an outpouring of great poetry

My Bright Abyss

Christian Wiman

I never felt the pain of unbelief until I believed. But belief itself is hardly painless.

The High Road to Narnia

George Watson

C. S. Lewis and his friend J. R. R. Tolkien believed that truths are universal and that stories reveal them

The Censor in the Mirror

Ha Jin

It’s not only what the Chinese Propaganda Department does to artists, but what it makes artists do to their own work

The Torture Colony

Bruce Falconer

In a remote part of Chile, an evil German evangelist built a utopia whose members helped the Pinochet regime perform its foulest deeds

Where Does American History Begin?

Ted Widmer

Mixing geography with invention, the first explorers and mapmakers made the New World a very hard place to pin down

Something Called Terrorism

Leonard Bernstein

In a speech given at Harvard 22 years ago and never before published, Leonard Bernstein offered a warning that remains timely

The New Old Way of Learning Languages

Ernest Blum

Now all but vanished, a once-popular system of reading Greek and Latin classics could revitalize modern teaching methods

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

William Deresiewicz

Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers

Intimacy

André Aciman

Revisiting the gritty Roman neighborhood of his youth, a writer discovers a world of his own invention

Pullovers

Kyoko Mori

Knitting a new life in America after a mother’s suicide, long ago in Japan

The Bout

Blair Fuller

When George Plimpton, the boyish editor of The Paris Review, went three rounds with the light-heavyweight champion of the world

Buoyancy

Willard Spiegelman

In literature, as in life, the art of swimming isn’t hard to master

The Broken Balance

Edward Hoagland

The poet Robinson Jeffers warned us nearly a century ago of the ravages to nature we now face

Passing the Torch

Stephen J. Pyne

Why the eons-old truce between humans and fire has burst into an age of megafires, and what can be done about it

The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass

Nick Bromell

Honoring the emotions that give life to liberal principles

What Kind of Father Am I?

James McConkey

Looking back at a lifetime of parenting sons and being parented by them

Rome’s Gossip Columnist

Garry Wills

When the first-century poet Martial turned his stylus on you, you got the point

Shipwrecked

Janna Malamud Smith

Like Robinson Crusoe after the storm, a daughter salvages what she can after her mother’s death

A Slow Devouring

Steve Macone

Banter, beer, and bar food smooth a disciplined but difficult passage through Finnegans Wake

Who Cares About Executive Supremacy?

Lincoln Caplan

The scope of presidential power is the most urgent and the most ignored legal and political issue of our time

Moral Principle vs. Military Necessity

David Bosco

The first code of conduct during warfare, created by a Civil War–era Prussian immigrant, reflected ambiguities we struggle with to this day

Dreaming of a Democratic Russia

Sarah E. Mendelson

Memories of a year in Moscow promoting a post-Soviet political process, an undertaking that now seems futile

The Daily Miracle

William Zinsser

Life with the mavericks and oddballs at the Herald Tribune

Cuss Time

Jill McCorkle

By limiting freedom of expression, we take away thoughts and ideas before they have the opportunity to hatch

Alone at the Movies

Mark Edmundson

My days in the dark with Robert Altman and Woody Allen

Balanchine’s Cabinet

Ann Hagman Cardinal

A young woman wins a drawing and learns to give and to receive

Confluences

Jennifer Sinor

As a beloved uncle makes his final journey in the wilderness, a new life begins

The Cradle of Modernism

Jacques Barzun

From the Autumn 1990 issue of The Scholar

Findings: Meditations on the Literature of Spying

Jacques Barzun

From the Spring 1965 issue of The Scholar

To the Rescue of Romanticism

Jacques Barzun

From the Spring 1940 issue of The Scholar

Findings: For Jacques Barzun on his 100th Birthday

Robert Wilson

Wonder Bread

Melvin Jules Bukiet

Come with us to a place called Brooklyn, where the stories are half-baked and their endings bland and soft

Unto Caesar

Ethan Fishman

Religious groups that have allied themselves with politicians, and vice versa, have ignored at their peril the lessons of Roger Williams and U.S. history

The Trojan War

William Nichols

Now even some environmentalists are supporting the use of nuclear power to generate electricity. One man’s story suggests the industry can’t be trusted

Poetry Stand

Douglas Goetsch

How a precocious group of high school poets learned to provide verse on demand

Lady of the Lake

Alice Kaplan

Writer Brenda Ueland and the story she never shared

Apologies All Around

Gorman Beauchamp

Today's tendency to make amends for the crimes of history raises the question: where do we stop?

Findings: Amateurism

William Haley

From the Spring 1976 issue of The Scholar

Findings: Richard E. Nicholls on Amateurism

Richard E. Nicholls

The Mystery of Ales

Kai Bird and Svetlana Chervonnaya

The argument that Alger Hiss was a WWII-era Soviet asset is flawed. New evidence points to someone else

The Mystery of Ales (Expanded Version)

Kai Bird and Svetlana Chervonnaya

The argument that Alger Hiss was a WWII-era Soviet asset is flawed. New evidence points to someone else

Love on Campus

William Deresiewicz

Why we should understand, and even encourage, a certain sort of erotic intensity between student and professor

Remember Statecraft?

Dennis Ross

What diplomacy can do and why we need it more than ever

Gazing Into the Abyss

Christian Wiman

The sudden appearance of love and the galvanizing prospect of death lead a young poet back to poetry and a “hope toward God”

‘Mem, Mem, Mem’

Paul West

After a stroke, a prolific novelist struggles to say how the mental world of aphasia looks and feels

Between Two Worlds

Christopher Clausen

The familar story of Pocahontas was mirrored by that of a young Englishman given as a hostage to her father

The Invasion of Privacy

Richard H. Rovere

From the Autumn 1958 issue of The Scholar

A New Theory of the Universe

Robert Lanza

Biocentrism builds on quantum physics by putting life into the equation

When 2+2=5

Robert Orsi

Can we begin to think about unexplained religious experiences in ways that acknowledge their existence?

In Pursuit of Innocence

Paul Sears

From the Spring 1953 issue of The Scholar

The Judge's Jokes

John Barth

Shards of memory, for better or for worse, from my father the after-banquet speaker

The Apologist

Michael McDonald

The celebrated Austrian writer Peter Handke appeared at the funeral of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Should we forgive him?

The Cook's Son

Frank Huyler

The death of a young man, long ago in Africa, continues to raise questions with no answers

One Day in the Life of Melvin Jules Bukiet

Melvin Jules Bukiet

A Manhattan writer runs afoul of the local penal system and lives to tell the tale

Findings: Privacy Revealed

Richard E. Nicholls

From the Archives

The Dispossessed

William Deresiewicz

First we stopped noticing members of the working class, and now we're convinced they don’t exist

THE SCHOLAR AT 75: An Educated Guess

Ted Widmer

Who knew that mixing the intelligent and the idiosyncratic would yield a long life for a certain small quarterly?

Not Compassionate, Not Conservative

Ethan Fishman

A political traditionalist critiques our pseudo-conservative president

Scooter and Me

Nick Bromell

Professing liberal doubt in an age of fundamentalist fervor

Fear of Falling

James McConkey

Working in the mop-and-bucket brigade in college created the perspectives of a lifetime

Glorious Dust

Robert Roper

The posthumous masterwork of an influential black historian tells how slavery itself undermined the Confederacy

Fired

Emily Bernard

Can a friendship really end for no good reason?

Getting It All Wrong

Brian Boyd

The proponents of Theory and Cultural Critique could learn a thing or two from bioculture

Lincoln the Persuader

Douglas L. Wilson

Seeking to get people behind his policies, he made himself the best writer for all our presidents

My Mother’s Body

Mary Gordon

Just remembering her is not enough; resurrecting her is the ultimate goal

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Carol Huang

An Ethiopian student survives a brutal imprisonment by translating Gone with the Wind into his native tongue

Findings: Bearing Gifts

Anne Matthews

The Ordinariness of AIDS

Philip Alcabes

Can a disease that tells us so much about ourselves ever be anything but extraordinary?

The Sack of Baghdad

Susannah Rutherglen

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has turned cultural icons into loot and archaeological sites into ruins

Miles from Nowhere

Edward Hoagland

On a return trip to the wilderness of British Columbia, the author revisits a rough and exquisite landscape

Rum and Coca-Cola

Wayne Curtis

The murky derivations of a sweet drink and a sassy World War II song

The Embarrassment of Riches

Pamela Haag

Do not pity me for having more money than anyone I know. Still, wealth does have its mild difficulties

The Case for Love

Natalie Wexler

Did the friendship of an early Supreme Court justice and the wife of a colleague ever cross the line of propriety?

Findings: A Bogey Tale

Brian Doyle

Leaving Race Behind

Amitai Etzioni

Our growing Hispanic population creates a golden opportunity

On the Outside Looking In

Nancy Honicker

Paris and its banlieues in November 2005

Onward, Christian Liberals

Marilynne Robinson

Christianity's long tradition of social injustice

What Jesus Did

Garry Wills

Forget about Christ as secular sage, historical figure, or even as Christian

Two Strangers, Three Stories

James McConkey

All the lonely people and where they come from

Shouldn’t There Be a Word ... ?

Barbara Wallraff

The holes in our language and the never-ending search for words to fill them

The Idea of Bombay

Gyan Prakash

Bollywood epitomized modernity for a boy in a distant province. As an adult, he sees a troubled city.

Henry James vs. the Robber Barons

Gorman Beauchamp

Why Italian art should stay in England, where it belongs, and not fall into the hands of foreigners

How to Write a Memoir

William Zinsser

Be yourself, speak freely, and think small

The New Anti-Semitism

Bernard Lewis

First religion, then race, then what?

My Holocaust Problem

Arthur Krystal

If we cannot speak of it—though speak of it we must—how do we remember what happened to the Jews of Europe?

Palladio in the Rough

Witold Rybczynski

A South Carolinian builds classical revival houses that really look old

Fadeaway Jumper

Mark Edmundson

A Sunday-afternoon player of a certain age says his farewell to basketball

Flat Time

Robert Finch

The ebb and flow of life in a Newfoundland fishing village

Buster Brown's America

Jiri Wyatt

How a Jew from Slovakia became a Catholic from Manhattan, then fell from grace and turned into a real American

A Visit to Esperantoland

Arika Okrent

The natives want you to learn their invented language as a step toward world harmony. Who are these people?

Teaching the N-Word

Emily Bernard

A black professor, an all-white class, and the thing nobody will say

The Rise and Fall of David Duke

Lawrence N. Powell

Breaking the code of right-wing populism in Louisana

Chekhov's Journey

James McConkey

Finding the ideal of freedom in a rugged prison colony

Custom and Law

Melvin Jules Bukiet

After the death of his father, a not-notably observant Jew turns to the mourning rituals of his faith

Findings: The Baroness Eyewitness

Anne Matthews

Accidental Elegance

Mary Beth Saffo

How chance authors the universe

Genome Tome

Priscilla Long

Twenty-three ways of looking at our ancestors

Roosevelt Redux: Part Two

Thomas N. Bethell

Robert M. Ball and the battle for Social Security

Summer Visitors

Ann Beattie

Buy a house in Maine and they will come. And come.

Findings: The Battered Trunk

Brenda Wineapple

Roosevelt Redux

Thomas N. Bethell

Robert M. Ball and the battle for Social Security

End Game

Amitai Etzioni

The elderly are entitled to what they have earned

All About Eve

Cynthia Russett

What men have thought about women thinking

A Long Cold View of History

Donald Worster

How ice, worms, and dirt made us what we are today

The Big Roundup

Ted Gioia

John Lomax roamed the West, collecting classic songs from the cowboy era

The Glue Is Gone

Edward Hoagland

The things that held us together as individuals and as a people are being lost. Can we find them again?

So Help Me God

Ted Widmer

What all fifty-four inaugural addresses, taken as one long book, tell us about American history

What We Got Wrong

Lawrence Rosen

How Arabs look at the self, their society, and their political institutions

The Coming of the French

Phyllis Rose

My life as an English professor

The Software Wars

Paul De Palma

Why you can't understand your computer

The Crooner and the Physicist

Jeremy Bernstein

Jacques Brel and The New Yorker profile that never reached critical mass

A Sturdy Man

Brian Doyle

Notes on a human symphony

Findings: Another Washington Leak

Patricia O’Toole

Reaching Point Comfort

Adam Goodheart