Book Essay

A Dream of a Writer

Ann Beattie

Peter Taylor’s stories reveal an artist immersed in the quotidian who rose to the complexities of the heart and psyche

Remembering Bob Silvers

Garry Wills

The legendary New York Review of Books editor knew everybody, had read everything, and oversaw every stage of what he published

Found in Translation

Piotr Florczyk

A poet learns how to feel and see and think and sound in the language of his adopted home

The Gogol Notebook

Angela Davis-Gardner

Remembering Randall Jarrell’s passionate lectures on Russian literature and discovering the pangs of alienation that plagued the poet during his final years

A Life Written in Invisible Ink

Sandra M. Gilbert

In her rebellious and much-celebrated poetry, Adrienne Rich both deciphered and created the feminist world she inhabited

Living With Dante

Louis Begley

A writer reflects on how the poet’s vision served as a vade mecum amid the horrors of the Holocaust

Inscriber’s Block

Ralph Keyes

Just because you can write a book doesn’t mean you can sign one

A Radical Pessimist’s Priceless Patter

David Lehman

Dashiell Hammett took the detective story out of the parlor and into the street

Reflections on Alexis de Tocqueville

Saul Bellow

What is the place of the artist in a democratic society?

Last Works

Roger Grenier

Every writer eventually faces the question: Is there anything left to say?

The Autobiography of Biography

David Levering Lewis

In which I tell how I was drawn again and again to the lives of African-American figures, and found in them the story of our times

Looking Back, Warily, But With Affection

David Guterson

Snow Falling on Cedars at 20

The Novels Don’t Change, But We Do

Wendy Smith

Rereading those works that matter to us proves that books read us even as we read them

Examined Lives

Phyllis Rose

A mystery exists at the heart of all literary biography: How does the mush of experience get turned into glittering artifact?

Hannah Arendt on Trial

Daniel Maier-Katkin and Nathan Stoltzfus

The 1963 publication of her “Eichmann in Jerusalem” sparked a debate that still rages over its author’s motivations

Endless Rewriting

Helen Hazen

When a novice writer received a letter from Jacques Barzun, asking her to write a book, how could she have known what she was in for?

Happily Ever After

Wendy Smith

The folk tales gathered by the Brothers Grimm not only enchant us; they record the hardships European families endured for centuries

Prince of Poets

David J. Wasserstein

Mahmoud Darwish was the voice of the Palestinian people—chronicling not just the struggles and political injustices, but also the rhythms of daily life

An Unquenchable Gaiety of Mind

George Watson

On visits to Cambridge University late in life, Jorge Luis Borges offered revealing last thoughts about his reading and writing

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Essays From the Edge

Patricia Hampl

The Jazz Age novelist’s chronicle of his mental collapse, much derided by his critics, anticipated the rise of autobiographical writing in America

Sex and the Single Woman

Lisa Zeidner

Rediscovering the novels of Iris Owens

When Kerouac Met Kesey

Sterling Lord

The two counterculture heroes, one representing the Beat ’50s and one the psychedelic ’60s, had a lot less in common than you might expect

Ardent Spirit, Generous Friend

David Guy

Remembering the novelist Reynolds Price

An Italian Tragedy

Janna Malamud Smith

Discovering a World War II tale that mesmerizes, then horrifies

The Faux Arts

Edwin M. Yoder Jr.

Variations on a theme of deception

Trial and Eros

Ben Yagoda

When Lady Chatterley's Lover ran afoul of Britain's 1959 obscenity law, the resulting case had a cast worthy of P.G. Wodehouse

Lunching on Olympus

Steven L. Isenberg

My meals with W. H. Auden, E. M. Forster, Philip Larkin, and William Empson

Journeys with Joseph Mitchell

William Zinsser

Shylock, My Students, and Me

Paula Marantz Cohen

What I’ve learned from 30 years of teaching The Merchant of Venice

Living on $500,000 a Year

William J. Quirk

What F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns reveal about his life and times

Remembering John Updike

William H. Pritchard

A critic and his decades-long correspondence with one of America's best "freelance writers"

Literary Cubs, Canceling Out Each Other’s Reticence

David A. Taylor

Letters between Federal Writers’ Project cohorts Richard Wright and Nelson Algren depict a mutual admiration rare among young novelists

The Swiveling Light of Truth

Roberta Silman

Remembering Grace Paley and her wise, fierce, funny, sad, innovative short stories

The Grasshopper and His Space Odyssey

Jeremy Bernstein

A scientist remembers the celebrated science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke

The Art of Literature and the Science of Literature

Brian Boyd

The delight we get from detecting patterns in books, and in life, can be measured and understood

Souls Hungering After Meaning

Michael Dirda

In Aegypt, John Crowley's just-completed four-book masterwork, ordinary people bear a faint symbolic glow through real and mythological realms

A Seductive Spectacle

Charles Trueheart

The languid bazaar of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet still beckons 50 years later

War Weary

Wendy Smith

If Iraq is not another Vietnam, why do I find myself rereading Dispatches?

Going Native

Morris Dickstein

When American literature became good enough for Americans, what happened to the literary canon?

Tiny Tomes

Judith Pascoe

Literature in miniature has a 500-year history, but what's the appeal of a volume too small to read?

Why Read George Eliot?

Paula Marantz Cohen

Her novels are just modern enough—and just old-fashioned enough, too

Leading Men

Anne Matthews

Authorities on the Revolutionary era say how the Founding Fathers became culture heroes.

Celestial Jukebox

Siva Vaidhyanathan

The paradox of intellectual property

End of Discussion

Suzanne Freeman

Why I’m leaving my book group