Intellectual rebel, romantic pragmatist, aristocratic pluralist, William James was both a towering figure of the nineteenth century and a harbinger of the twentieth. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including 1,500 letters between James and his wife, acclaimed biographer Linda Simon creates an intimate portrait of this multifaceted and contradictory man. Exploring James's irrepressible family, his diverse friends, and the cultural and political forces to which he so energetically responded, Simon weaves the many threads of William James's life into a genuine, and vibrant, reality.
"William James . . . has never seemed so vulnerably human as in Linda Simon's biography. . . . [S]he vivifies James in such a way that his life and thought come freshly alive for the modern reader."—David S. Reynolds, New York Times Book Review
"Superb. . . . Genuine Reality is recommended reading for all soul-searchers."—George Gurley, Chicago Tribune
"Ms. Simon . . . has provided an ideal pathway for James's striding. . . . [Y]ou become engaged in his struggles as if they were your own."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times
"[A]n excellent narrative biography at once sensitively told and lucidly written."—John Patrick Diggins, Wall Street Journal
George Henry Lewes, consort of George Eliot biographer of Robespierre and Goethe, novelist, editor, and critic, was also a scientist and philosopher. An intellectual figure of great importance on the Victorian scene, he has never before received adequate modern scholarly appreciation. In this book Professor Tjoa not only reconstructs Lewes’ theory of criticism and his social and political opinions but also evaluates his contributions to Darwinian science both as original thinker and as popularizer. With skillful discrimination, moreover, Mr. Tjoa has extracted from Lewes’ massive five-volume Problems of Life and Mind a clear and succinct account of Lewes’ metaphysical views. Literature and art, politics and societs science and an in- formed Victorian philosophy of man and the universe: the effervescent Lewes made important contributions to all. Hitherto in danger of surviving in our minds only as the lover, friend, and counselor of one of the Victorian age’s greatest novelists, Lewes emerges in Mr. Ijoa’s brief and lucid study as a thinker to he remembered for his writings as well.
Gershom Scholem (1897–1982) was ostensibly a scholar of Jewish mysticism, yet he occupies a powerful role in today’s intellectual imagination, having influential contact with an extraordinary cast of thinkers, including Hans Jonas, Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, and Theodor Adorno. In this first biography of Scholem, Amir Engel shows how Scholem grew from a scholar of an esoteric discipline to a thinker wrestling with problems that reach to the very foundations of the modern human experience.
As Engel shows, in his search for the truth of Jewish mysticism Scholem molded the vast literature of Jewish mystical lore into a rich assortment of stories that unveiled new truths about the modern condition. Positioning Scholem’s work and life within early twentieth-century Germany, Palestine, and later the state of Israel, Engel intertwines Scholem’s biography with his historiographical work, which stretches back to the Spanish expulsion of Jews in 1492, through the lives of Rabbi Isaac Luria and Sabbatai Zevi, and up to Hasidism and the dawn of the Zionist movement. Through parallel narratives, Engel touches on a wide array of important topics including immigration, exile, Zionism, World War One, and the creation of the state of Israel, ultimately telling the story of the realizations—and failures—of a dream for a modern Jewish existence.
German-born Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem (1897–1982), the preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism, delved into the historical analysis of kabbalistic literature from late antiquity to the twentieth century. His writings traverse Jewish historiography, Zionism, the phenomenology of mystical religion, and the spiritual and political condition of contemporary Judaism and Jewish civilization. Scholem famously recounted rejecting his parents’ assimilationist liberalism in favor of Zionism and immigrating to Palestine in 1923, where he became a central figure in the German Jewish immigrant community that dominated the nation’s intellectual landscape in Mandatory Palestine. Despite Scholem’s public renunciation of Germany for Israel, Zadoff explores how the life and work of Scholem reflect ambivalence toward Zionism and his German origins.
Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) is one of the great figures of early modern Europe, and one of the least understood. Ingrid D. Rowland’s biography establishes him once and for all as a peer of Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Galileo—a thinker whose vision of the world prefigures ours.
Writing with great verve and erudition, Rowland traces Bruno’s wanderings through a sixteenth-century Europe where every certainty of religion and philosophy has been called into question, and reveals how he valiantly defended his ideas to the very end, when he was burned at the stake as a heretic on Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori.
“A loving and thoughtful account of [Bruno’s] life and thought, satires and sonnets, dialogues and lesson plans, vagabond days and star-spangled nights. . . . Ingrid D. Rowland has her reasons for preferring Bruno to Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, even Galileo and Leonardo, and they’re good ones.”—John Leonard, Harper’s
“Whatever else Bruno was, he was wild-minded and extreme, and Rowland communicates this, together with a sense of the excitement that his ideas gave him. . . . It’s that feeling for the explosiveness of the period, and [Rowland’s] admiration of Bruno for participating in it—indeed, dying for it—that is the central and most cherishable quality of the biography.”—Joan Acocella, New Yorker
“Rowland tells this great story in moving, vivid prose, concentrating as much on Bruno’s thought as on his life. . . . His restless mind, as she makes clear, not only explored but transformed the heavens.”—Anthony Grafton, New York Review of Books
“[Bruno] seems to have been an unclassifiable mixture of foul-mouthed Neapolitan mountebank, loquacious poet, religious reformer, scholastic philosopher, and slightly wacky astronomer.”—Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review
“A marvelous feat of scholarship. . . . This is intellectual biography at its best.”—Peter N. Miller, New Republic
“An excellent starting point for anyone who wants to rediscover the historical figure concealed beneath the cowl on Campo de’ Fiori.”—Paula Findlen, Nation
Through photographs and translations of Friedrich Nietzsche's evocative writings on his work sites, David Farrell Krell and Donald L. Bates explore the cities and landscapes in which Nietzsche lived and worked.
"A brilliant juxtaposition of life and thought. . . . The sympathy of this pictorial biography is rivaled by few books on Nietzsche."—Charles M. Stang, Boston Book Review
"[A] distinguished addition to the Nietzsche-friendly corpus."—Alain de Botton, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"An odd and oddly endearing record of Nietzsche's travels."—John Banville, New York Review of Books
The Good Life
Yi-Fu Tuan University of Wisconsin Press, 1986 Library of Congress BJ1481.T83 1986 | Dewey Decimal 170
“[Tuan] explores answers to an old and unanswerable question: how should we live? . . . The Good Life is a little anthology of good feeling, touchstones of joy . . . These pleasures make the book a pleasure, not of conviction or belief, but of conversation’s meandering exploration.”—New York Times Book Review
“Tuan, after all, is one of the few geographers who can be read for pleasure, and by the public as well as by the professional. But read not merely for pleasure, nor yet to mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Rather, consider Tuan’s challenge to identify your concept of the good life, and then try to construct that life.”—Environment and Planning D: Society and Space