On V.S. Naipaul

The Naipaul Question. How does a writer become so protean – sympathetic and vile, attractive and repulsive, wounder and wounded?…
The Naipaul Question. How does a writer become so protean – sympathetic and vile, attractive and repulsive, wounder and wounded?… [More]

Social scientists and social change

When, in 1967, Noam Chomsky said the responsibility of intellectuals was to “expose the lies of governments,” it was a minority view. Now it’s de rigueur…
When, in 1967, Noam Chomsky said the responsibility of intellectuals was to “expose the lies of governments,” it was a minority view. Now it’s de rigueur… [More]

Orwell and Camus

Orwell was 35 when he suffered his first bout; Camus was 17. Tuberculosis was one thing to discuss had they met in Paris, as planned, in February 1945…
Orwell was 35 when he suffered his first bout; Camus was 17. Tuberculosis was one thing to discuss had they met in Paris, as planned, in February 1945… [More]

On Lionel Trilling

“I am ashamed of being in a university,” said Lionel Trilling. “I have one of the great reputations in the academic world. This thought makes me retch”…
“I am ashamed of being in a university,” said Lionel Trilling. “I have one of the great reputations in the academic world. This thought makes me retch”… [More]

On Philip Glass

Since 1976, Philip Glass has composed 10 symphonies and six string quartets – all excruciatingly boring. But no one should doubt his historical significance…
Since 1976, Philip Glass has composed 10 symphonies and six string quartets – all excruciatingly boring. But no one should doubt his historical significance… [More]

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt’s guide to thinking: Ignore disciplinary and methodological boundaries; discard the insidious notion that insight is quantifiable….
Hannah Arendt’s guide to thinking: Ignore disciplinary and methodological boundaries; discard the insidious notion that insight is quantifiable…. [More]

Hobsbawm File

Eric Hobsbawm’s MI5 file contains 1,000 or so pages, collated chronologically in folders that run from 1942 to 1963. He was classified as a “Category A” Communist…
Eric Hobsbawm’s MI5 file contains 1,000 or so pages, collated chronologically in folders that run from 1942 to 1963. He was classified as a “Category A” Communist… [More]

On Clive James

Clive James no longer has the energy to write long pieces. Poetry is his main event now, and he makes it seem like the most exciting thing in the world…
Clive James no longer has the energy to write long pieces. Poetry is his main event now, and he makes it seem like the most exciting thing in the world… [More]

Literature and Money

We expect certain academics, like English professors, to love what they teach. Do we also expect them to sacrifice a good living for the pleasure?…
We expect certain academics, like English professors, to love what they teach. Do we also expect them to sacrifice a good living for the pleasure?… [More]

Indian literature

How to succeed as an Indian writer: Write about India, but in English and for the West. “It is a shameful experience; it produces feelings of irrelevance and inauthenticity”…
How to succeed as an Indian writer: Write about India, but in English and for the West. “It is a shameful experience; it produces feelings of irrelevance and inauthenticity”… [More]