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Wittgenstein Jr

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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-class student surprised to find himself among the elite—soon discovers that there’s no place for logic in a Cambridge overrun by posh boys and picnicking tourists, as England’s greatest university is collapsing under market pressures.

Such a place calls for a derangement of the senses, best achieved by lethal homemade cocktails consumed on Cambridge rooftops, where Peters joins his fellows as they attempt to forget about the void awaiting them after graduation, challenge one another to think so hard they die, and dream about impressing Wittgenstein Jr with one single, noble thought.

And as they scramble to discover what, indeed, they have to gain from the experience, they realize that their teacher is struggling to survive. For Peters, it leads to a surprising turn—and for all of them, a challenge to see how the life of the mind can play out in harsh but hopeful reality.

Combining his trademark wit and sharp brilliance, Wittgenstein Jr is Lars Iyer’s most assured and ambitious novel yet—as impressive, inventive and entertaining as it is extraordinarily stirring.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published September 2, 2014

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About the author

Lars Iyer

11 books80 followers
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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 133 reviews
Profile Image for ArturoBelano.
99 reviews275 followers
May 25, 2018
Napolyon waterloo muharebesini kaybeden komutanlarını huzuruna çağırır ve savaşın neden kaybedildiğini sorar. Komutanlardan biri cevap verir ve nedenleri saymaya başlar

1- Kurşunumuz bitti.

Bu kadar yeter der Napolyon, kurşununuz bittiyse gerisini konuşmaya gerek yok.

Bu kitabın neden kötü bir kitap olduğunu sıralamam gerekirse en başa neyi koyacağımı bilmiyorum ama hepsi de o kurşunun yerine geçebilir.

Bir gün Cambridge' ebir felsefe hocası gelir, wittgenstein'a benzetilir ve olaylar gelişir.

Öncelikle kitabın adı neden wittgenstein jr. anlamış değilim. Araya wittgenstein'dan parçalar atmakla olmuyor bu iş. Kitap boyunca ne felsefecinin dertleri ne de jr'ın dertleri derli toplu anlaşılmıyor ki zaten daha kitabın 20. Sayfasında " alt üst olmuş görünüyor" denen bir karakterle karşı karşıyayız ama bu alt üst oluşun nedenleri niçinleri hepsi muamma. Bu yanıyla karakter en başta inandırıcı değil. Yazar bizden onun dahiliğine ikna olmamızı talep ederken derste isyan eden Doyle gibi bağırasım geliyor " biz bir şey görmüyoruz.". Wittgenstein'in en bilinen sözlerinden biri " dünya, ne ise o olan her şeydir" ama biz bu kitapta onun yerine Baudilard'ın similasyon kuramının etkisi altında bir adam görüyoruz. Neyse geçiyorum bu faslı ne karakter ne dertleri ne felsefesi bana geçmedi bu bile böyle bir iddia ile çıkan eserin değerini düşürüyor bence.

Kitapın üslubu da vasat sularda yüzüyor hadi yazarın sevdiği şekilde ifade edeyim post modernist enkazın enkazından kalan enkazı çağrıştırıyor.

Daha sabaha kadar bu kitabı gömerim ama ne vaktim ne de enerjim var. Ancak gördüğünüz üzere kitaba iki yıldız verdim bunun nedeni ise şu; bu kitabın okuru ben değilim ama bir okuru olduğuna inanıyorum. Dili edebi olarak güçlü değil evet fakat akıcı ve geçiş dönemi okuru için ilgi çekici olacağını düşünüyorum ve ilk gençlik dönemindeki okura ilerideki yapacağı okumalar için ön hazırlık olabilir bu yanıyla.
Profile Image for Gorkem.
137 reviews88 followers
May 6, 2018
Öncelikle şu ana kadar en acımasız davranacağım kitap olacak. Felsefe ve edebiyat seven biri olarak Lars Iyer ilgimi çeken bir yazar, fakat Wittgenstein Jr. Tam anlamıyla fiyasko kimse kusura bakmasın.

Öncelikle, zorlayan ön hazırlık yaptıran kitapları severim ve okuma öncesinde Wittgenstein ile bir bilgi sahibi olmadığım için hızlıca bir okuma yapıp kendisi konusunda eksik kalmış cahilliğimi gidermeye çalıştım.Tabii ki bir iki makaleyle oalcak şey değil. Fakat çok üzgünüm, kitap gençlere wittgenstein öğretiyorum modunda yazılmış ve biraz da wittgenstein ile harmanlanmış 2. Sınıf ergen kitabı.

Okuyacak hiçbir şeyiniz yoksa, altını çizmek istediğiniz kalemleriniz boşlukta bekliyorsa rahat okuyayım ve boş boş bakıp stres atayım diyorsanız müthiş bir kitap.
Profile Image for Sinem A..
448 reviews246 followers
May 13, 2018
kesinlikle vakit kaybı. temeli yok bağlantısı yok vardığı bir yer yok. niye yazılmış onu bile anlamadım. hadi yazdın niye wittgenstein ı alet ettin bari onu anlatabilseydin. hiç olmamış. oldukça sığ kalmış.
Profile Image for Neli Krasimirova.
160 reviews84 followers
May 27, 2018
"Yazma sebebin neydi ki Lars?" sorusuyla başlamak istiyorum yorumuma, zira ismini bir filozoftan alan bir kitaba çok yakışacağını düşünüyorum. Ambalajı çok iyi yapılmış olsa da kitabın kendisi pek bir şey sunamıyor.
Kitabı okurken o Cambridgeli veletlerin "My master, my master!" diye sıralara tırmanacağını düşündüm ama yalnızca yapış yapış bir romantizme battı. O isminin telaffuzu bir tevazu oluşturan okul gerçekten amerikan gençlik filmleri gibi mi yalnızca??

Öncelikle karakterler çok derinliksiz ve Wittgenstein lakabını taktıkları hoca bir felsefe profesöründen çok ergenlik sancıları bitmemiş bir genç yetişkin.

Anlatım darmadağın. Metne derinlik katma çabasıyla cümlelere sürekli italik yazı vurgusu verilmiş ki çok sinir bozucu. Eskiden sorulan sorulara "Çünkü." diye cevap veren bir ergendim, yalnızca bu edatla verdiğim cevabın çok derin olduğunu düşünür yetişkinlerin bunu anlamasını isterdim. Lars Iyer da tükenmeyen italik kelimeleri sayesinde o kanım kaynayan anlamsız gençliğime döndürdü beni, neden bunu onun gibi kâra dönüştürmediğime hayıflandım.
İkinci yıldızı yalnızca literatürden yaptığı alıntılar için uğraşma çabasına verdim.
Profile Image for Özgür Atmaca.
Author 1 book51 followers
May 10, 2018
E.M.Cioran’ın tüm eserlerindeki hiççiligi düşündükçe Lyar’ın Witgeinstein’ı felsefe soslu sitcom tadında kalıyor.
Profile Image for Elaine.
773 reviews350 followers
May 2, 2016
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 works - unless it has changed a lot in the last 25 years.

I have seen it called a comedy, but it was much more sad, with its dwelling on the soullessness of contemporary education, suicide, loss and abandonment. I have seen it called a love story, but the love, such as it is, comes in a rush at the very end, and persuaded me, at least, not at all.

Can't recommend to anyone not immersed in the inside baseball of Oxbridge or philosophy or possibly both. Not sure if I would recommend to those who are, but have no basis for knowing.

Parts were compelling, but it was pretty boring with the repetitive philosophical ravings (there is no other word) and seemed long despite being short.
Profile Image for Sevgi K..
80 reviews33 followers
September 1, 2020
Taşıma suyla değirmen dönmüyormuş. Güzel bir teması varken hiç bir derinlik katamadığı için yazar çok başarısız. Ölü Ozanlar Derneği'nin Cambridge şubesi olabilirdi halbuki. Okumakla zaman kaybetmeyin demeyeceğim, okuyun, ben yandım siz de yanın :)
Profile Image for E.J..
15 reviews3 followers
January 30, 2015
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 states of being in this book: A group of Cambridge students, full of ambivalence and fear and their philosophy professor. There is a complexity to their relationships that grows in its clarity as the story progresses. We can think of the philosophy course they are attending under the tormented professorship of "Wittgenstein Jr."(we never learn his real name) as the mirror into which their lives are reflected. They are upper-class students mostly, quite posh, one even ridiculously aristocratic as an heir to a duchy. They find comfort in their vague connection as friends, though the meaning of that friendship is tentative and always subject to their own narcissism and selfishness. The professor is struggling with many things, all very serious, and unlike his students, he IS very serious. I think the primary conflicts in this book revolve around seriousness. On the one hand, we have characters awash in privilege, students of an elite university, financially blessed, attractive, and fun. On the other, we have a serious scholar, struggling with his thoughts to the point that he fears he may die. No one is happy. The students realize that they have both everything and nothing.
I rarely read new fiction, but I found this book delightful.
Profile Image for Will.
307 reviews62 followers
September 1, 2014
"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. Keep them asleep. We won't disturb them. They're not for us, after all. They were not written with us in mind.
And they reek of the past. Their pages have the musty smell of the past. The smell of old forgotten things. Of things that should be forgotten. Sun-browned pages. Date-stamps from decades ago. Annotations in a tiny hand. Underlinings. Whole passages marked in yellow hi-lighter. Tan-brown stains from coffee and tea. Evidence of squashed insects. Dried-up tear splashes. A curly strand of pubic hair. A trace of wiped blood. And sometimes a memento: an old train ticket, a cinema ticket . . . Old things! Old things! These things that should be left undisturbed.
The old world is passing. Worlds and worlds are vanishing. A whole civilisation—that was once our civilisation—sinks into the greeny-black depths of forgetting . . ."
Profile Image for Anna.
1,631 reviews600 followers
November 30, 2016
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, though, all the griping about urban extensions to the city and the stacks of new flats around the railway station was 100% legitimate and convincing. As are the complaints about academia becoming horribly corporate. That theme was more effectively explored in Exodus, though.

‘Wittgenstein Jr’ concerns a young, eccentric philosophy lecturer and the group of undergraduates who idolise him, whilst partially convincing themselves they are doing so ironically. I think Iyer has better insight into the postgrad experience than the undergrad one (although I would say that as the former). My Cambridge undergrad experience involved a lot more essay-writing than is mentioned here and I did not relate to the estrangement from books at all. The recent undergrads I’ve taught seemed library-averse, though. Much more unrealistic was the absence of women. There are plenty of female philosophy students; I’ve met them.

Wittgenstein Jr himself is depressive and pessimistic in a similar fashion to Lars and W., but his tirades don’t work so well when concentrated into one character. Without an interlocutor to puncture his pomposity, he seems more tragic and less funny. Quite possibly that was the intent, as the undergrads were supposed to provide the absurdity. Their bacchanalian shenanigans didn’t really manage that for me, though. The fourth and final section of the book was also oddly different in tone to the rest, which was rather disconcerting. It seemed to undermine what went before.

In other words, while Iyer's Spurious trilogy is perhaps the best literature on the horrors of PhD life that I’ve ever read, ‘Wittgenstein Jr’ didn’t do much for me. There were some lovely bits of writing, however the overall effect was rather flat.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,637 followers
January 30, 2019
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.
386 reviews34 followers
November 4, 2014
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 could have written a book like this, and Lars Iyer is indeed one (he teaches at Newcastle University). His plot is pretty simple: A new lecturer arrives at Cambridge, and because his appearance and highly idiosyncratic style remind his students of the historical LW, they dub him "Wittgenstein" (hereafter I refer to him as "Wittgenstein Jr", in order to distinguish the two). There appears to be no course text and no set lesson plan; instead, the class is regularly exposed to Wittgenstein Jr's fevered attempts to wrestle with the nature of philosophy and logic. In short order, most of the students understandably drop out of the course, leaving behind a few who seem more committed to drugs, alcohol, and parties than to serious academic work. Their cavalier attitude toward intellectual effort is frequently remarked upon by Wittgenstein Jr, but he has other, more serious dissatisfaction as well. Here is his take on Cambridge (Oxford fares no better):
The new don is nothing but a suburb-head, Wittgenstein says. The new don -- bidding for funds, exploring synergies with industry, looking for corporate sponsorship, launching spin-off companies. The new don, courting venture capitalists, seeking business partners, looking to export the Cambridge brand. The new don -- with a head full of concrete. A finance-head. A capitalist-head.

Do we believe the dons teach at Cambridge? No, they train at Cambridge! Do we believe the dons think at Cambridge? No, they bid at Cambridge! They network. They grub about for money. They ride the waves of global finance.

The new don has sold his soul!, Wittgenstein says. The new don has sold his university! The new don has monetised Cambridge! The new don has made Cambridge into an advert." [p. 63]

In this environment (which is likely to be familiar to many people entrenched in universities far from Oxbridge), Wittgenstein Jr unsurprisingly fails to thrive; he worries about his brother's madness and suicide, and he increasingly sees himself on the verge of madness. His small circle of remaining students grow fond of him -- one, especially so -- but they are unable to do much to relieve the relentless torment that holds their teacher firmly in its grip.

In the book's overall scheme, the rant quoted above is somewhat anomalous. Besides being entirely plausible, it's far more intelligible than many other passages in which Wittgenstein Jr's oracular pronouncements are featured. For example:
Logic is lost, that's the trouble, he says. Logic has got lost. We must lead logic back to itself, he says. We must let logic recover its memories.

And one day, logic will whisper in our ears, he says. Logic will say the kindest words. We will mistake it for roaring, he says. We will confuse it with the howling wind ... [p. 67]

Or again:
After philosophy, every moment of the past will be remembered, he says. Nothing will be lost.

After philosophy, the past will be reparable, he says. Reversible.

After philosophy, death will be transformed into life, he says. Sorrow will be transformed into joy.

After philosophy, the dead will awaken. The dead will be reborn. His brother, his mother, his father; they will be reborn.

After philosophy, we will weep without cease. We will laugh without cease. [p. 223]


If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, then the book is for you. If you'd prefer an excellent one-page parody of Wittgenstein, then I highly recommend an offering by Michael Frayn. In either case, it would best to start by spending a little time with the Philosophical Investigations, which serves as the inspiration for both.

One passage near the middle of Wittgenstein Jr is particularly striking, although it might have been better placed at the very end of the novel (perhaps as an extract in the notebook that Wittgenstein Jr hands over to his favorite student in the closing scene):
There's a fire backstage, he says. The clown comes out to warn the audience. Laughter and applause. They think it's a joke! The clown repeats his warning. The fire grows hotter; the applause grows louder. That's how the world will end, Wittgenstein says: to general applause, from halfwits who think it's a joke. [p. 124]
Profile Image for Lisa.
3,245 reviews409 followers
January 29, 2016
I came across this book via an enticing review at Tony’s Book World https://anokatony.wordpress.com/2014/... 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, and unless you are deeply into philosophy of the most exacting kind, I recommend that you stick with the Pythons.

But the novel is a delight. Narrated by a Cambridge student called Peters, it tells the story of a group of undergraduates and their perplexed response to the tortured musings of their philosophy lecturer, whom they nickname Wittgenstein.


Wittgenstein’s been teaching us for two weeks now.

Was it Ede’s idea to call him Wittgenstein? Or Doyles?

He doesn’t look like Wittgenstein, it’s true. He’s tall, whereas the real Wittgenstein was small. He’s podgy, whereas the real Wittgenstein was thin. And if he’s foreign – European in some sense – he has barely the trace of an accent.

But he has a Wittgenstein aura, we agree. He is Wittgensteinisch, in some way.

He has clearly modelled himself on the real Wittgenstein, Doyle says (and Doyle knows about these things). He dresses like Wittgenstein, for the one thing – the jacket, the open-necked shirt, the watch strap protruding from his pocket. And he behaves a bit like Wittgenstein too: his intensity – his lips are thinner than any we’ve seen; his impatience – the way he glared at Scroggins for coming in late; his visible despair.

And of course, like the real Wittgenstein, he has come to Cambridge to do fundamental work in philosophical logic. (p. 5)

This brief extract has introduced us to a couple of Peter’s undergraduate pals, the remnants of a class which began with 45 students but dropped to 12 because Wittgenstein is incomprehensible and by modern standards, his classes are dreadful. (Where’s the handout? the list of key concepts? the PowerPoint? the virtual learning environment??)

To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2015/01/30/wi...
Profile Image for Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine).
443 reviews66 followers
January 14, 2020
"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 philosophy teacher at Newcastle University in the UK and all his books share common themes and interpretive problems. This book is set on Cambridge and its infamous University where the children of the social elite are studying various scholarly subjects. One of them is, of course, philosophy and the book begins when a new teacher is appointed, a mysterious person who is immediately nicknamed by the students as "Wittgenstein", not because of his physical appearance which is quite different from that of the famous Austrian philosopher, but due to his eccentricity and difficulty in expression, both trademark characteristics of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

To read my full review, visit https://tapthelinemag.com/post/wittge...
Profile Image for James Klagge.
Author 15 books79 followers
December 29, 2015
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.
For a Wittgenstein scholar like myself, my first inclination is to compare the content with what I know of the history. Since this (and the others) is a work of fiction, there is no obligation to adhere to history, but on the other hand the fact that the author chooses a historical character suggests there is a genuine connection. I suppose this is an endless balancing act. But I enjoy this issue, and enjoy seeing how the authors handle it.
In this case, the title character is NOT Wittgenstein, but a present day philosophy lecturer at Cambridge who is nicknamed "Wittgenstein" by his students. Yet virtually all of the characterization and information is drawn from Wittgenstein himself--he teaches philosophy at Cambridge, is Germanic, is suicidal and has a brother who committed suicide, has devoted students, agonizes about Logik and the nature of philosophy, tries to envision the end of philosophy, has homosexual inclinations toward one of his students, dictates his ideas to his student, etc. The differences are not significant, but they are there--the one who lives for a time in Norway is his brother, and a couple others. Most importantly, the story takes place in the present. Thus issues are raised about the current state of universities and students and their purposes, and about modern technology. It is somewhat interesting to "put" "Wittgenstein" in those situations, and see what happens. Mostly this is predictable, except that this "Wittgenstein" texts.
Much of the book takes place in the lecture room, with "Wittgenstein" spelling out (or not) his gnomic thoughts. The somewhat disappointing part for me was that very little here actually resembled any substantive philosophical positions that Wittgenstein himself addressed. Instead this "Wittgenstein" spends endless hours agonizing over the nature of philosophy and the end of philosophy. The actual Wittgenstein did do this, even in his lectures, but it was only a tiny part of his reflections. I suppose it is the most dramatic part, and the most interesting to non-philosophers. Two other works that at least try to address Wittgenstein in the classroom are the play "The Crooked Roads", and the movie "Wittgenstein." The play chooses a plausible topic and does a fair job of it, though it is not a topic that Wittgenstein in fact used. The movie uses some of Wittgenstein's actual topics, but manages to make them seem rather silly. So, this remains a subject for future writers.
It was an odd coincidence that I finished this book on Christmas Day, when the novel itself finishes on Christmas Eve. For those interested in the history, the narrator of the "story," Peters, is closest to Wittgenstein's student and friend and (literally) "one-time" lover Francis Skinner. And it seems plausible to think of the ending, when "Wittgenstein" departs, as closest to his temporary departure from philosophy in 1936, when he headed off to Norway once again.
Profile Image for Bob Garlitz.
6 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2015
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 portrait of the students. Herein lies Iyer's genius quintessential. The Kirwin Twins, Ede, Titmuss, Doyle, Mulberry and the quiet, long-suffering Peters, our narrator as it happens, are drawn with such economy and wit, highest wit I tell you, as to rival almost the bard himself. Here are groundlings, high-brow, Oxbridge university level groundlings, of such depth and dunceiadness as to be paragons for the ages of the students that every teacher has privately railed about for aeons. This bunch are St Augustine's students in Carthage, the very reason he fled Africa and sought better working conditions in the academies of Rome. These bright wastrels are bonded into a brotherhood of brilliance aspirant that Samuel himself would smile to see, to hear, to go drinking with. These dear fellows may be the most heroic group of students ever to grace the pages of literature, heroic pages of literature, servants, are they, to the utter greatness of their calling, to be students of the master himself, WJr.

After all of this, Iyer brings the book to as sweet and beautiful and moving and end as you can imagine. Such a magnificent re-telling of life of the mind and heart at the heart of the love of learning.
429 reviews11 followers
September 23, 2015
Yeah, yeah, I'm not a Wittgenstein scholar, so, of course, I'm not going to appreciate this book.

Baloney.

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 the sloppiness of it is an intentional allusion to life's futility and ultimate meaninglessness, Lars Iyer does a good job on that front. So I'll tip my hat to that, even if I can't say I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Nick.
175 reviews48 followers
February 23, 2015
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 and what kept me coming back for more is that most of the novel is seriously funny.
Profile Image for sevvalsinem.
31 reviews13 followers
March 26, 2017
Güzel bir konuya değinmesine rağmen kullanılan dil mi yoksa yazarın kaleme alırken samimi olabilme kaygısı mı bilemiyorum beni romandan uzaklaştırdı. Büyük bir kitle tarafından sevilmiş sanırım fakat ben diğer taraftayım.
Profile Image for Domitori.
33 reviews17 followers
October 18, 2014
A would-have-been-perfect novel, spoiled by pasted-on romance, community-theater madness, misquoted Hans Christian Andersen, and excessive italics.
Profile Image for dana.
338 reviews20 followers
May 16, 2021
literally devoured this book.... i could only ever dream of writing such a smart, funny, moving novel, this book a brilliant homage to one of the greatest (if not the greatest thinker) of modern times.... i love you ludwig wittgenstein <3
Profile Image for Kirsten.
243 reviews26 followers
February 12, 2020
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 another way to pace the floor of your cell.

To leave Cambridge is to return to Cambridge. To try to escape Cambridge is only to be more imprisoned in Cambridge.

Cambridge!, he exclaims. Grantchester!, he exclaims. Cambridge! Grantchester! The path to Grantchester! The path to Cambridge! The path to Grantchester is only ever the path to Cambridge!

.......

Why must everything be explained?, Wittgenstein asks. As soon as there are signs about trees, there are no trees. As soon as there are information boards about wildlife, there is no wildlife. As soon as there's a Byron plaque and an Augustus John plaque and a Rupert Brooke plaque, the legacies of Byron and Augustus John and Rupert Brooke are entirely destroyed. As soon as there's a plaque explaining Grantchester, Grantchester itself is wiped from the face of the earth.

But perhaps that's no bad thing, he says: wiping Grantchester from the face of the earth."
Profile Image for Shawn Jaquiss.
260 reviews
January 28, 2015
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 lectures and their futures. I wouldn't recommend this book because it really didn't appeal to me and I was never captivated by the story.
Profile Image for Linda.
526 reviews9 followers
December 1, 2014
ugh. If you did not read Philosophy or go to Cambridge, do not read this book.
Profile Image for Lauren.
12 reviews
June 27, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Nicolaus S.
42 reviews27 followers
September 14, 2018
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 that remain. The twelve are fascinated by the obscure and possibly non compos mentis man they only refer to as Wittgenstein Jr. The students attend class only to try to understand and decipher his lectures. What the students enjoy about Wittgenstein is that they are equals to him. They are not the slaves to him as they have been their whole academic career at Cambridge. Wittgenstein asks them questions. He will tell them when they have said something idiotic or unthoughtful. The reader observes all of this and more through the observations of the the alienated Peters.
Peters is a boy from Northern England on a full scholarship to Cambridge among the elites of the world. Peters is social, but there still seems to be a disconnect that we, the reader, see within his observations. It could be his complete awareness like that of Saint Augustine ’s Confessions in that Augustine was so aware of his sins that he was more sinful then the ignorant men who are like the naked Adam and Eve who do not see their nakedness until they east the fruit from the tree of wisdom. We can also see this ignorance of the masses when Jesus says to God in Luke 23:24 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Peters parties like most of the Cambridge students do; using soft drugs, hard drugs, and alcohol. But, he sees something there; the existential looniness that drives us to deaden ourselves with drugs and “drink ourselves into insensibility.” Wittgenstein and Peters view on the world collide and we see a Lacanian world of the Symbolic, Imaginary, and The Real.
Wittgenstein Jr. sees that “before our desires become desires they are satisfied” in the world we live in today. As we gained language — consciousness we were thrown into The Symbolic and now we are told what to desire. We no longer are the controller, but controlled by The Big Other. Wittgenstein Jr. wants to get back to The Real; the place where we were before. He sees the overall cynicism of the students who drink because they have “absolutely nothing to say” and so as the real Wittgenstein said in the Tractatus: “limits of my language are the limits of my world.” Wittgenstein Jr. sees this drink and overall inner distance from reality only more enslaving and controlling than a revolution and so he is trying to lead the way for these students who only have one term left until they are released into the abyss.
“Wittgenstein is our mirror” — he wants to show the students the parallax view; allowing them to see the whole of reality rather than the hegemonic Cambridge view. Wittgenstein Jr. is still in search of The Real. He talks of his dislike for dogs for they hide their true nature of being animals and beasts. The only dogs he likes are Pit Bulls and Dobermans for they do not hide their animalistic behavior but allow it to be shown as The Real.
There is talk of madness by Wittgenstein Jr. and his students. One most remember that the real Wittgenstein was suicidal during many points in his life and that two of his three brothers committed suicide. At one point in the novel Wittgenstein and his students discuss Nietzsche fall into madness in his later years as he in a way reenacted a scene from Crime and Punishment where, in a dream, Raskolnikov sees a horse being beat by his drunken owner. One can see parallels between Raskolnikov, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein Jr. For all three men are trying to save the oppressed literally or figuratively. In the novel Wittgenstein Jr. is trying to save his students from the dons of Cambridge who have enslaved the students. The students know that they are “here [educational institution] to fill the classrooms, and pay the fees,” but nonetheless they still stay and carry on and so Wittgenstein tries to make them suffer through trying to understand him to truly understand him. The old Aristotle quote stand true to this:”To perceive is to suffer.”
Wittgenstein Jr. can be seen as an almost John Brown character who tries to save the oppressed maybe as a mad man or an intellectual hero. We learn of his brother who taught at Oxford and who moved to Norway only to go mad ( The real Wittgenstein moved from Cambridge to Norway). We learn that Wittgenstein Jr.’s brother may have gotten to close to the abyss of philosophy or “God” as Slavoj Zizek would say and saw the only way to The Real is by the self-destructive act of suicide. He tells his students this and by the midpoint they begin to mirror him, constantly pondering on what he said, what he was doing, thinking, et cetera.
Im not going to ruin the conclusion of the novel, but this excellent novel truly illustrates how the real Wittgenstein and other philosophers would see the world we live in with a sense of anxiety which we see throughout the novel with the compact and repetitive sentences that carry on till the conclusion of the novel. The novel pokes fun at Wittgenstein and academic institutions to drugs and partying. The entire novel is a love story of philosophy and the relationship of Professor to his students. Wittgenstein Jr. is quite fun and a short ride (225 pages) through philosophy and academic relationships.
Profile Image for Margrét.
1 review
August 10, 2020
Skemmtileg lesning, en ýmist fáránlega kómísk eða kómískt fáránleg.
Profile Image for Meg.
159 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2020
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 . . .
Profile Image for Emmett.
342 reviews36 followers
October 30, 2015
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 - as is the beauty itself that it reaches and tries to teach - lies in wording the wonder that lies at the heart of an encounter with knowledge, against the ruined deceptive wonder and rush of the present-day.

Iyer writes with moving poetry. (The whole book can almost be called a sustained prose-poem.) His style is enchantingly sparse, so concentrated; the smallest word carries a weight that cannot be dismissed. Its spareness and episodic nature lend a soft mirroring voice to the fleeting quality of everything the book touches upon (life, youth, or Wittgenstein's Tractatus).

Everything in it evokes the unbearable lightness of being. But it is also a light book, trading in familiar references (Facebook statuses, office-jobs) and jokes ("Doyle to Mulberry: You have a quantum penis. It's both there and not there.") The plays in-between (enacting death-scenes of famous philosophers) contain the most memorably comic passages.

While some may feel the romance at the end is startling and seemingly superficial, I felt it was, already, a thing lying dormant from the very beginning, carried along in the narrative current and waiting to surface. That it was written grants it poignancy, and a kind of wish fulfilment, on the part of the reader who by that moment would have been influenced by the students' curiosity. That is also part of the point here. After all, this book circles around, and finally, in that last moment, answers the fascination with what it means and feels like to have touched genius, even if it is for a while. It would not be too much to say that Iyer accomplishes this brilliantly.

"We’re drowning in openness, he says. In our sense of the possible. We’re ready to take anything in – to learn about anything, and therefore about nothing. Everything is available to us, and therefore nothing is available to us. Everything is at our disposal, and therefore nothing is at our disposal. We are infinitely open-minded, which is to say, infinitely closed-minded."
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Author 1 book2 followers
October 5, 2014
Review: Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyler

This book is brief for a reason: the conceit cannot be sustained at length. The protagonist, Wittgenstein Jr., an appropriated name not at all real, is presented as a professor of philosophy at Cambridge, where he philosophizes abstrusely and obtusely against philosophy. His coterie of students understand nothing of the contradictions he presents as wisdom. Perhaps we are to understand that he is the true son of Wittgenstein, whom few understand. The students merely provide filler for the lack of plot, as does the suicide of his brother. Things, however, resolve, at least to a point, when he beds one of his students.
If one must understand Wittgenstein or trends in modern philosophy to appreciate the sardonic satire intended, few will enjoy this work. On the other hand, if one enjoys short books with gobbledygook text which provide an exercise in speed reading, this is a fantastic find.

Mr. Graziano is the author of From the Cross to the Church: the Emergence of the Church from the Chaos of the Crucifixion.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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