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The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths
3.86
really liked it
I'll start my review with a statement from the middle of this book, which might also stand for a précis of its argument:
Admitting that our lives are s
...more
Mar 2013
Feb 27, 2013
 
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
3.90
really liked it
Olivia Laing launches her book with the idea that “loneliness might be taking you towards an otherwise unreachable experience of reality,” which may b ...more
Mar 26, 2016
Mar 19, 2016
 
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature - Fiftieth-Anniversary Edition
4.24
it was amazing
Maybe the most impressive work of literary criticism ever written, not least because of the circumstances under which it was composed: Auerbach, a Ger ...more
not set
Jul 14, 2007
 
The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
4.26
it was amazing
Ian McGilchrist's thick book on the "divided brain" is the most interesting book I've read this year. I'd come to regard the fabled right brain/left b ...more
Feb 21, 2010
Jan 24, 2010
 
The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays
4.27
really liked it
Way back in 1978 I got entangled in an argument with a hysterical seminary student. I'd made some withering remark about the current chic fascination ...more
Jan 21, 2013
Jan 03, 2013
 
The Rebel
4.13
really liked it
I admit – when I first picked up The Rebel in this artful Penguin edition, I was picturing beatniks with berets and cigarettes contesting over existen ...more
Jul 21, 2009
Jul 04, 2009
 
Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia
3.90
it was amazing
Picking up where he left off in his genuinely iconoclastic book Straw Dogs, John Gray turns his attention to the ineluctably human penchant for utopia ...more
Dec 2007
Jan 01, 2008
 
Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age
3.96
really liked it
Once in a great while I stumble onto a new book by an author I'd forgotten, and discover his work all over again. Twenty years ago I got lost in Rober ...more
Dec 06, 2014
Nov 30, 2014
 
Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy
3.87
really liked it
A self-help book for readers who hold self-help books in complete contempt. "It is not true that to live is to prepare ourselves for death and ruin; i ...more
Mar 12, 2011
Mar 14, 2011
 
How I Stopped Being a Jew
3.92
liked it
An illuminating, somewhat resigned, essay on the perils of identity politics, rather than a polemic. Shlomo Sand examines the myths of Jewish identity ...more
Oct 25, 2014
Oct 25, 2014
 
The Poetry of Thought: From Hellenism to Celan
3.98
liked it
"The phenomenology of pure thought is almost daemonic in its strangeness." I've thought that myself. But if you haven't read the books of the hieropha ...more
Jun 02, 2012
Jun 02, 2012
 
What Kind of Creatures Are We?
3.78
it was amazing
A short book based on Chomsky's lectures at Columbia, composed in his usual boring* style, a deceptively simple summa of his work on language, science ...more
Jan 02, 2016
Jan 02, 2016
 
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism
3.80
really liked it
From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the the latter's ...more
Aug 27, 2011
Aug 28, 2011
 
In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture
4.09
really liked it
George Steiner, the polysyllabic polymath, is easy to make fun of — and I have to confess, I can hardly read him any more. But for at least 20 years I ...more
not set
Jul 13, 2007
 
History and the Human Condition: A Historian's Pursuit of Knowledge
4.38
liked it
This book will take its place at the end of my shelf of books by the musing historian John Lukacs. In the steamy summer of 1976 I first discovered his ...more
Mar 03, 2013
Feb 27, 2013
 
Freedom and the Arts: Essays on Music and Literature
3.65
really liked it
Last week I was saddened to read the obituary of Charles Rosen. I've been reading his essays in the New York Review of Books for decades, with pleasur ...more
Dec 17, 2012
Aug 29, 2012
 
The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography
4.01
really liked it
Love the polemical preface to this book! While The Sadeian Woman (originally published in 1979) may be something of a historical text these days, it's ...more
Jan 1985
Jul 16, 2007
 
Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History
3.59
it was ok
Reading this book was like sipping a cup of tepid cocoa. I picked it up with high expectations – MacMillan is the much-heralded author of Paris 1919 ...more
Jul 22, 2009
Jul 22, 2009
 
Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life
4.07
it was amazing
This is a strange book, one that almost resists reading because it is so strange. It comes with some of the best blurbs I've ever seen. Rikki Ducornet ...more
Feb 18, 2012
Feb 18, 2012
 
Last Rites
4.05
really liked it
I'm awarding 4 stars, one perhaps out of sentimentality and gratitude for Lukacs. Thirty years ago when I was a student I came across The Last Europea ...more
Feb 11, 2009
Feb 13, 2009
 
The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction
3.77
liked it
Mark Lilla's interpretative essays are always worth reading but for me the most interesting part of his new book is his Afterword.
Narratives of progre
...more
Oct 10, 2016
Oct 10, 2016
 
The Idea of Europe: An Essay
3.84
it was ok
First I blame myself – I had only a few minutes at City Lights on my lunch hour, and picked this book off the shelf after I'd grabbed Colm Tóibín's On ...more
Mar 19, 2015
Mar 19, 2015
 
The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism
4.43
really liked it
If you're interested in gnosticism, Christology, the way the mind forms patterns of ideas, or in following the adventures of a truly original mind — c ...more
Jan 1991
Jul 17, 2007
 
A Terrible Love of War
4.04
really liked it
I recently re-read the Iliad – and suspected that Hillman's book (which I'd bought a few years ago but never read) would deepen my appreciation of Hom ...more
Jun 2007
Jul 25, 2007
 
Notes on Suicide
3.72
liked it
Often my reasons for buying a book are ridiculous. A few weeks back I read a piece in the The Guardian about a new bookstore in London where literatur ...more
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016
 
The Ghosts of Birds
4.13
it was amazing
The first essay – "The Story of Adam and Eve" – summed up everything I knew about the Hebrew myth in a couple pages then astonished me with a book I d ...more
Oct 16, 2016
Oct 16, 2016
 
The Delighted States
4.00
it was amazing
I'm half-way through this delightful exploration of European fiction. On the evidence of this book, Thirlwell seems to be one of those exceptionally l ...more
Jan 29, 2009
Sep 11, 2008
 
From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition
3.60
really liked it
I bought this book (at Amazon's prompting) because it promised essays on two favorite writers – Edward Gibbon and Constantin Cavafy. Bowersock is a cl ...more
May 05, 2009
May 05, 2009
 
Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths
3.87
liked it
I recently reread Plato's four "death of Socrates" dialogues (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo) and wanted a bit more historical background than I co ...more
Oct 2009
Nov 29, 2009
 
From Prague to Paris
4.29
really liked it
Like the iconoclastic Ioan Couliano, José Guilherme Merquior is a polymath who died too young, a man whose books I never pick up without mourning that ...more
Aug 31, 2011
Aug 31, 2011
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