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Wittgenstein Jr

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  637 ratings  ·  131 reviews
The writer Hari Kunzru says “made me feel better about the Apocalypse than I have in ages” is back—with a hilarious coming-of-age love story

The unruly undergraduates at Cambridge have a nickname for their new lecturer: Wittgenstein Jr. He’s a melancholic, tormented genius who seems determined to make them grasp the very essence of philosophical thought.

But Peters—a working
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Melville House
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Average rating 3.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  637 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I really have no idea what this book was. Some comic sketches about very privileged white (ok, two of their friends weren't white but those guys had NO SPEAKING PARTS) guys at Cambridge, and their indulgence in all kinds of drugs and alcohol. A LOT of depressed and depressing ravings by their philosophy prof which might have meant more to me had I cracked Wittgenstein at any point in the last 25 years. NO women anywhere, really none, not as friends, not as scholars - which isn't how college work ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"But who needs libraries? Who needs books? We have them on our e-readers. Or rather, we could have them. We could have anything at all. Everything from the past can be called up in the present. Everything can be here—everything that was ever thought, or written, or composed, or painted. We can commune with all the ghosts. We can wake up the dead. But who wants to wake up the dead?
Library hardbacks should stay closed, their secrets hidden. Their spines should stay turned to us on their shelves. K
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academia, fiction
Since Exodus was one of my favourite novels I read in 2015 and ‘Wittgenstein Jr’ is ostensibly that incredibly rare thing - a novel about Cambridge students in which no-one is murdered - I expected to enjoy it more than I actually did. Then again, the danger of reading novels set in Cambridge is the compulsion to nit-pick. For instance, quite early on the ‘high street’ was referred to. Cambridge doesn’t actually have a high street, nor a street that is generally referred to as such. To be fair, ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one long, giggling sitting. The style of this book is rather unconventional, at least where novels are concerned, with much of it feeling quite stream-of-consciousness in its form. We are presented with train-of-thought inner dialogue as well as some of the most amusing, witty dialogue I have read in some time. Iyer's books are worth reading just for the insults his characters fling at one another, but there is a surprising depth, too.
We are presented with two very different
lark benobi
every other word or two in italics, in practically every sentence until I felt, reading along, that the author was giving me mental cpr, little pushes my brain that stressed words that didn't feel all that interesting on their own.

I wanted to like it but I didn't.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it
It's rather astonishing that this novel actually got published. Filled with cryptic pronouncements in the style of Ludwig Wittgenstein's posthumous Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein Jr is unlikely to be appreciated by anyone lacking a substantial background in philosophy. And the size of that potential readership is apt to be vanishingly small, given that Wittgenstein's writings -- once included in most university philosophy curricula -- have fallen out of fashion.

Only a philosopher cou
Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine)
"He speaks of the time when we will have joyously forgotten philosophy. Forgotten what philosophy was for. A time when we will play with philosophy, like gods" (76%- Kindle Version)

"After philosophy, we will be as children at play, he says. Any seriousness will be put-on seriousness. Any solemnity will be playful solemnity". (83%)

Lars Iyer is an author mainly known for his trilogy of novels – "Spurious", "Dogma" and "Exodus", while "Wittgenstein Jr" is his first standalone novel. He is a p
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I came across this book via an enticing review at Tony’s Book World and ordered a copy the same day. I was intrigued because I had not long finished reading Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a self-inflicted challenge imposed by signing up for a year-long course called Great Books at my alma mater, the University of Melbourne. Most people, I suspect, would be more familiar with Wittgenstein from his appearance in the Monty Python skit below, ...more
Sep 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Yeah, yeah, I'm not a Wittgenstein scholar, so, of course, I'm not going to appreciate this book.


I don't appreciate this book, which does have some compelling moments, because following a group of Cambridge boys finding new ways to get drunk and make sex jokes while speculating about their depressed-sounding philosophy professor doesn't get me all that excited.

I might not get the nuance of all the philosophical references. I do get that the plot of this story felt slapped together. If t
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a confounding novel to review. Insomuch that it IS a novel as it eschews most conventional notions of plot and exposition. What you have is a campus novel and the requisite rants and raves about the state of things--though at least the philosophic salon-style banter is elevated from the dormroom bonghaze kernels-of-wisdom-buried-in-indulgence Ive come to expect from most college novels. The only forward narrative where something actually happens is in the last 20 pages. The saving grace ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
A would-have-been-perfect novel, spoiled by pasted-on romance, community-theater madness, misquoted Hans Christian Andersen, and excessive italics.
James Klagge
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one more of the many works of fiction drawing on the name or character of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Off hand I can think of: (novels) "Wittgenstein's Nephew," "Wittgenstein's Mistress," "A Philosophical Investigation," "The World as I Found It"; (poems) "Wittgenstein's Trousers"; (stories) "Wittgenstein's Lolita"; (plays) "The Crooked Roads"; (films) "Wittgenstein"; and so forth. These tend to be pretty good, since not just anyone would tackle this character. And this one is pretty good, too. ...more
Bob Garlitz
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Funny, brilliant, brilliantly hilarious, moving, beautiful. Iyer is the finest legatee in English of Thomas Bernhard--- the bitter humor and the sense of language, the rhythms of speech, the rhythms of thought, the feel for thought, the feel for language, the feel for the divagations of the soul, the wanderings of the heart, the saving warmths of delight and humor, the healing laughter of divine tears.

The portrait of the teacher, Wittgenstein Jr, superb as it is, is not quite as superb as the po
Shawn Jaquiss
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-tob
This book was written by a philosophy professor about a philosophy professor teaching a philosophy class at Cambridge which means that none of it made any sense. It was interesting to read the ramblings of the professor as he instructed his students and simultaneously descended into depression and madness. The students' conversations and shenanigans outside of class were the fun part of the book. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the professor's paranoid rants and the students' discussions of the l ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
ugh. If you did not read Philosophy or go to Cambridge, do not read this book.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, poignant. Anyone who loves Thomas Bernhard has to be charmed. Anyone who can't bear Thomas Bernhard probably won't bear this.

"In the end, the walk to Grantchester is only a way to pace the floor of his cell, he says. As indeed any trip from Cambridge is only a way to pace the floor of your cell. A trip to London from Cambridge is only a way to pace the floor of your cell. A trip to Norwich from Cambridge is only another way to pace the floor of your cell. A trip to Ely Cathedral--just
Nicolaus Stengl
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-reread
Wittgenstein Jr. is most likely the best fictional novel that I read this year and my last novel of 2014.A love story never seen before. A story of love for philosophy and love for one's students by Wittgenstein Jr. The compact and short sentence induce anxiety the whole ride until the novel’s conclusion where the reader and his twelve students begin to understand Wittgenstein Jr. not fully, but enough.
The class starts at forty-five, but within a few weeks there are only twelve male students tha
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an amusing but very strange read. Written by a philosophy don, about a philosophy don, I’m assuming it is parody. I wasn’t too sure what to make of the romance at the end . . .
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has encountered Wittgenstein's work (background will be helpful)
Recommended to Emmett by: An evening trip to the library, bored
Shelves: philosophy
I drowned in this book in one sitting. It seemed that as long as I was on the page, leaving the book alone was impossible.

An extraordinary, witty stream of consciousness narrative about philosophy, philosophic-religious despair, the economics of education and where it all leads us. But to say all this would be to reduce it to the sum of its parts, its ostensible plot of an austere philosophy professor and his twelve (often drunk) students amid lurking Cambridge dons. The story's real beauty - a
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
B. Rule
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This book makes excellent use of italics. The first 80% of the book is an entertaining if perplexing send-up of a certain type of philosophizing that I don't think actually exists anymore. It apes the voice of "Philosophical Investigations"-era Wittgenstein perfectly, and turns that kind of ostensive thinking into a hilariously silly portrait of apocalyptic chin-stroking, while somehow walking the tightrope of still having some poignant things to say by taking seriously that type of thinking; it ...more
The collection of undergraduates studying under the otherwise unnamed new Wittgensteinian professor, however, are the usual collection of frivolous young men (this is a world without women, a matter to ponder right there...) whose antics are so lovingly described in such affectionate detail that readers might wonder if being serious is all it's cracked up to be.

The attraction of a happy carefree life rather than a serious one strangely echoes the concerns of Eugene Thacker's Horror of Philosophy
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
In this book, students basically try to understand what their philosophy professor is saying, which is honestly what I thought throughout most of the book. However, the students in the book mostly wanted to say or do something to impress him, but I couldn't understand why because I was mostly bored by his philosophical musings. Critics seemed to really enjoy this book, so I realize I risk upsetting people when I say that I found this book pretentious and confusing. The end of the book couldn't c ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Carolyn by: Tournament of Books
Shelves: fiction, tob
Pretty unusual. Philosophy professor trapped inside his melancholic view of life. Bunch of cambridge undergrads (some richer than others, some drunker than others, some more messed up than others) who both worship and deride and are confused by him. One in particular falls into a kind of hero worship / maybe love / maybe obsession.

Not a lot of plot in the beginning, wasn't sure I was really enjoying. Second half really took off for me. Lovely language, not sure I got everything he was saying. B
Apr 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
I did not finish this book, so please take that into account when reading my review. I suspect that I did not understand something fundamental about this book, as I never understood the basic premise or hook. The story follows a number of college kids in Cambridge as they take a philosophy course from an eccentric philosophy professor. Perhaps the story gets profound near the end, but the first half was rather insufferable in content and writing style.
Elizabeth Pergam
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
A light book about a serious subject. Although Iyer's novel takes as its subject the very real pressures of academia and the fine line between madness and the study of philosophy, by using the students' point of view, the mood never goes beyond the satirical. ...more
Jan 06, 2015 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Not really holding my attention. DNF.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Eh .... this was OK. I really liked the ending, but the first 3/4 of the book were kind of a slog. Bummer for me, because I'm a huge sucker for a boarding school story. ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This novella is a satiating comedic snack. You will fall in love with the characters ability to make you laugh, all the way to the last page.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am so glad I'm finished reading this book so I don't have to read it anymore. How on earth did this get picked for TOB? ...more
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The Rooster!: TOB15 title: Wittgenstein Jr 9 53 Mar 05, 2015 08:07PM  

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Lars Iyer is the author of the novel Wittgenstein Jr (2014). He has also written a trilogy of novels – Spurious, Dogma and Exodus. Iyer has also written two scholarly books on the work of Maurice Blanchot. He teaches philosophy at Newcastle University in the UK.

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