William H. Gass (b. 1924) is an essayist, novelist, and literary critic. He grew up in Ohio and is a former professor of philosophy at Washington University. Among his books are six works of fiction and nine books of essays, including Tests of Time (2002), A Temple of Texts (2006), and Life Sentences (2012). New York Review Books will republish his story collection In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (1968) in 2014. Gass lives with his wife, the architect Mary Gass, in St. Louis.


Learning from a Modern Master

M.H. Abrams, Ithaca, New York, 2008

The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays

by M.H. Abrams, with a foreword by Harold Bloom
During the days I spent in Cornell’s philosophy department as a graduate student in the late 1940s, I thought poorly of English departments, and believed myself, concerning literature, beyond instruction. However, after the first humbling year among the mathematically minded, I needed some relief.

The Hovering Life

The Man Without Qualities

by Robert Musil, translated by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike
In St. Louis a warm wind had unexpectedly arrived to draw moisture from the cold ground and cover runways with layers of dense fog. The flight boards in LaGuardia said “Canceled” for Chicago, too. Detroit was socked in, Cleveland growing gray, so there’d be no back door through which I …

Being and Dying

The Encyclopedia of the Dead

by Danilo Kiš, translated by Michael Henry Heim
Danilo Kiš was born in Subotica. To my Western ears, the name seems that of an imaginary city. It is located in Yugoslavia, a country put together out of bits and pieces like Dr. Frankenstein’s notorious experiment: impressive that it can walk at all, but making any move with difficulty.


Jasper Johns: Work Since 1974 Pennsylvania, (October 23, 1988–January 8, 1989)

an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia,

Jasper Johns: Work Since 1974

catalog of the exhibition by Mark Rosenthal
S.I. Newhouse shifted his left hand slightly, Larry Gagosian responded to the sign by making a small one of his own, and John Marion then announced another $250,000 advance in the bidding for Jasper Johns’s 1959 canvas called False Start. However, it was finally not a wave from the publisher …

Portrait of the Artist

Painting as an Art

by Richard Wollheim
The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts were inaugurated by Jacques Maritain in 1952, and in subsequent years, Kenneth Clark, Herbert Read, Etienne Gilson, E.H. Gombrich, and Siegfried Giedion gave public talks at the National Gallery which, expanded and rewritten for publication in the Bollingen Series, made significant theoretical …

The Polemical Philosopher

Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by R.J. Hollingdale, introduction by Erich Heller

Conversations with Nietzsche: A Life in the Words of His Contemporaries

edited by Sander L. Gilman
In an early, autobiographical essay, written for school, Friedrich Nietzsche recalled that he found Naumburg overly busy—dusty and indifferent as well as bewilderingly various—after the close, quiet, neighborly life of Röcken, the tiny country village in Saxony where he was born. Naumburg would shrink as his own mind woke and …