Gutter oil

I learned a new term today: Gutter Oil Gutter oil (Chinese: 地沟油; pinyin: dìgōu yóu, or 餿水油; sōushuǐ yóu) is a term used in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and...

Bad presidents can do good things

Even Warren Harding had a moment of courage, according to Sean Wilentz in The New York Times: Warren G. Harding — darkly handsome, impeccably dressed and widely adored — acquired...

When 'modernism and fantasy met in the jungles of colonial Ceylon'

Lev Grossman’s “Death of a Civil Servant,” published in 2010, tells the story of Leonard Woolf and B.J. Dutton, who served together in the British civil service in Ceylon in...

Tolstoy's aim in War and Peace

I’m in total sympathy with Tolstoy’s aim in War and Peace, as proclaimed by Fraser Bell in his 2002 essay on the novel: His central aim was to attack the...

Museum pieces obtained by 'trickery, coercion, and theft'

From “The Horticulturalist of the Self”, a review of books by the anthropologist Michel Leiris: Leiris was a member of the French ethnographic expedition, led by Marcel Griaule, that traveled...