Sunday, January 29, 2017

What are you reading to help you cope?

Among my slice of the American population, recent events appear likely to benefit the ACLU and real newspapers. Could they also spark interest in the liberal arts and the humanities in general and history in particular? I mean the sort of thing that offers perspective beyond the capacity of even the most penetrating Tweet.

Montaigne's Essays have been an even greater balm than usual, and Edward Gibbon and Thomas Paine have helped, too. WHAT HAVE YOU READ to help you cope with and at the same time escape the current tumult?

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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9 Comments:

Blogger Art Taylor said...

Ah, Montaigne.... Indeed.

January 30, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No better reading for perspective in troubling times.

January 30, 2017  
Blogger Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Peter, I read political thinkers and philosophers in college and briefly after I majored in political science and sociology. Over the years I have often had the urge to read some of the renowned theorists but have never got around to it. I do read a lot of philosophy — mostly veering towards spirituality as a way of life; writers and thinkers like James Allen, J. Krishnamurti, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Emerson, Bertrand Russell, and Eknath Easwaran. I read Easwaran and other Indian spiritual teachers to cope with both positive and negative situations in life.

February 02, 2017  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Montaigne doesnt so much teach us how to live but teach us the importance of examining various ideas about how to live. He's skeptical, for example, about stoicism, epicureanism, Aristotlean virtue, Platonic notions of the ideal state, Christianity, etc. etc. Montaigne wd never say that unexamined life is not worth living but he wd say that the examined life is a little more interesting.

February 22, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if Montaigne's tendency to question himself at every turn is responsible for the difficulty his style poses for non-native readers of French.

February 22, 2017  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

For someone who struggles with French, its a joy to read Montaigne as his prose is clear, unslangy and yes you're right a little tangential at times but still pretty easy compared to pretty much every modern French philosopher (except Camus).

February 23, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I can read Voltaire, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and Montesquieu in French standing on my head (though I can't the spell the last of those names without looking it up). Not so Montaigne.

See this interview for a leading translator's thoughts on reading Montaigne.

February 23, 2017  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Voltaire and Camus are the 2 French philosophers I wd recommend to someone who is a non native French speaker.

L'Etranger and Candide can be read by anyone who, say, has only been studying French for about a year.

February 26, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Interesting on Camus. I can read historians and polemicists in French (Fernand Braudel and Henri Pirenne in addition to the gang I mentioned above), but I've never been confident reading fiction. I had the idea that the philosophes were especially readable for non-Francophones because they were part of the first group of writers who ever tried to persuade an educated general public, and therefore had to wrote clearly and logically. I further have the idea that that was a general property of eighteenth-century thought. Hume called himself something like an emissary between the worlds of learning and conversation, which I have always thought was a wonderful aspiration for any thinker and writer.

February 26, 2017  

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