Anthropology is a science whose most significant discoveries have come when it has taken its bearings from literature, and what makes Paul Radin’s Primitive Man as Philosopher a seminal piece of anthropological inquiry is that it is also a book of enduring wonder. Writing in the 1920s, when anthropology was still young, Radin set out to show that “primitive” cultures are as intellectually sophisticated and venturesome as any of their “civilized” counterparts. The basic questions about the structure of the natural world, the nature of right and wrong, and the meaning of life and death, as well as basic methods of considering the truth or falsehood of the answers those questions give rise to, are, Radin argues, recognizably consistent across the whole range of human societies. He rejects both the romantic myth of the noble savage and the rationalist dismissal of the primitive mind as essentially undeveloped, averring that the anthropologist and the anthropologist’s subject meet on the same philosophical ground, and only when that is acknowledged can anthropology begin in earnest. The argument is clearly and forcibly made in pages that also contain an extraordinary collection of poems, proverbs, myths, and tales from a host of different cultures, making Primitive Man as Philosopher not only a lasting contribution to the discipline of anthropology but a unique, rich, and fascinating anthology, one that both illuminates and enlarges our imagination of the human.
The Glory of the Empire is the rich and absorbing history of an extraordinary empire, at one point a rival to Rome. Rulers such as Basil the Great of Onessa, who founded the Empire but whose treacherous ways made him a byword for infamy, and the romantic Alexis the bastard, who dallied in the fleshpots of Egypt, studied Taoism and Buddhism, returned to save the Empire from civil war, and then retired “to learn to die,” come alive in The Glory of the Empire, along with generals, politicians, prophets, scoundrels, and others. Jean d’Ormesson also goes into the daily life of the Empire, its popular customs, and its contribution to the arts and the sciences, which, as he demonstrates, exercised an influence on the world as a whole, from the East to the West, and whose repercussions are still felt today. But it is all fiction, a thought experiment worthy of Jorge Luis Borges, and in the end The Glory of the Empire emerges as a great shimmering mirage, filling us with wonder even as it makes us wonder at the fugitive nature of power and the meaning of history itself.
Follows the late author's experiences and observations as a visitor to an early 1970s Palestinian refugee camp, in a lyrical and philosophical account that offers insight into the Palestinian cause and the Middle Eastern conflict. Original.
First published in 1968, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country established William Gass as one of America’s finest and boldest writers of fiction, and nearly fifty years later, the book still stands as a landmark of contemporary fiction. The two novellas and three short stories it contains are all set in the Midwest, and together they offer a mythical reimagining of America’s heartland, with its punishing extremes of heat and cold, its endless spaces and claustrophobic households, its hidden and baffled desires, its lurking threat of violence. Exploring and expanding the limits of the short story, Gass works magic with words, words that are as squirming, regal, and unexpected as the roaches, boys, icicles, neighbors, and neuroses that fill these pages, words that shock, dazzle, illumine, and delight.
Seated in a Paris café, a man glimpses another man, a shadowy figure hurrying for the train: Who is he? he wonders, How does he live? And instantly the shadow comes to life, precipitating a series of comic run-ins among a range of disreputable and heartwarming characters living on the sleazy outskirts of the city of lights. Witch Grass (previously titled The Bark Tree) is a philosophical farce, an epic comedy, a mesmerizing book about the daily grind that is an enchantment itself.
John Toland and Strategic Editing in the Early Enlightenment
Author: Katherine A. East
This book uses a previously overlooked Neo-Latin treatise, Cicero Illustratus, to provide insight into the status and function of the Ciceronian tradition at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and consequently to more broadly illuminate the fate of that tradition in the early Enlightenment. Cicero Illustratus itself is the first subject for inquiry, mined for what its deliberately erudite and colorfully polemical passages of scholarly stratagems reveal about Ciceronian scholarship and the motives for exploring it within the context of early Enlightenment thought. It also includes an analysis of the role played by the Ciceronian tradition in the broader political and radical movements that existed in the Enlightenment, with particular attention paid to Cicero’s unexpectedly prominent position in major political and philosophical Republican and Erastian works. The subject of this book together with the conclusions reached will provide scholars and students with crucial new material relating to the classical tradition, the history of scholarship, and the intellectual history of the early Enlightenment.
An NYRB Classics Original Simone Weil—philosopher, activist, mystic—is one of the most uncompromising of modern spiritual masters. In “On the Abolition of All Political Parties” she challenges the foundation of the modern liberal political order, making an argument that has particular resonance today, when the apathy and anger of the people and the self-serving partisanship of the political class present a threat to democracies all over the world. Dissecting the dynamic of power and propaganda caused by party spirit, the increasing disregard for truth in favor of opinion, and the consequent corruption of education, journalism, and art, Weil forcefully makes the case that a true politics can only begin where party spirit ends. This volume also includes an admiring portrait of Weil by the great poet Czeslaw Milosz and an essay about Weil’s friendship with Albert Camus by the translator Simon Leys.
Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence on Anarchism, 1908–1938
Author: Victor Serge
Publisher: PM Press
Providing a complete picture of Victor Serge's relationship to anarchist action and doctrine, this volume contains writings going back to his teenage years in Brussels, where he became influenced by the doctrine of individualist anarchism. At the heart of the anthology are key articles written soon after his arrival in Paris in 1909, when he became editor of the newspaper l'anarchie. In these articles Serge develops and debates his own radical thoughts, arguing the futility of mass action and embracing "illegalism." Serge's involvement with the notorious French group of anarchist armed robbers, the Bonnot Gang, landed Serge in prison for the first time in 1912. The book includes both his prison correspondence with his anarchist comrade Émile Armand and articles written immediately after his release. The book also includes several articles and letters written by Serge after he had left anarchism behind and joined the Russian Bolsheviks in 1919. Here Serge analyzed anarchism and the ways in which he hoped anarchism would leaven the harshness and dictatorial tendencies of Bolshevism. Included here are writings on anarchist theory and history, Bakunin, the Spanish revolution, and the Kronstadt uprising. Anarchists Never Surrender anthologizes Victor Serge's previously unavailable texts on anarchism and fleshes out the portrait of this brilliant writer and thinker, a man I. F. Stone called one of the "moral figures of our time."
An NYRB Classics Original Deep in Provence, a century ago, four stone houses perch on a hillside. Wildness presses in from all sides. Beyond a patchwork of fields, a mass of green threatens to overwhelm the village. The animal world—a miming cat, a malevolent boar—displays a mind of its own. The four houses have a dozen residents—and then there is Gagou, a mute drifter. Janet, the eldest of the men, is bedridden; he feels snakes writhing in his fingers and speaks in tongues. Even so, all is well until the village fountain suddenly stops running. From this point on, humans and the natural world are locked in a life-and-death struggle. All the elements—fire, water, earth, and air—come into play. From an early age, Jean Giono roamed the hills of his native Provence. He absorbed oral traditions and, at the same time, devoured the Greek and Roman classics. Hill, his first novel and the first winner of the Prix Brentano, comes fully back to life in Paul Eprile’s poetic translation.
More than a thousand years ago, an extraordinary trove of early Buddhist sutras and other scriptures was secreted away in caves near the Silk Road city of Tun-huang. But who hid this magnificent treasure and why? In Tun-huang, the great modern Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue tells the story of Chao Hsing-te, a young Chinese man whose accidental failure to take the all-important exam that will qualify him as a high government official leads to a chance encounter that draws him farther and farther into the wild and contested lands west of the Chinese Empire. Here he finds love, distinguishes himself in battle, and ultimately devotes himself to the strange task of depositing the scrolls in the caves where, many centuries later, they will be rediscovered. A book of magically vivid scenes, fierce passions, and astonishing adventures, Tun-huang is also a profound and stirring meditation on the mystery of history and the hidden presence of the past.