I hope there is something here for any young writer – or any older writer, for that matter – who happens to be looking for a teacher to come along, a teacher who, in the end, can really teach nothing at all but fire. From the critically acclaimed Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin, comes a paean to the power of language, and a direct address to the artistic, professional and philosophical concerns that challenge and sometimes torment an author. Comprising fifty-two short prose pieces, Letters to a Young Writer ranges from practical matters of authorship, such as finding an agent, the pros and cons of creative writing degrees and handling bad reviews, through to the more joyous and celebratory, as McCann elucidates the pleasures to be found in truthful writing, for: 'the best writing makes us glad that we are – however briefly – alive.' Emphatic and empathetic, pragmatic and profound, this is an essential companion to any author's journey – and a deeply personal work from one of our greatest literary voices.
Consolation has always played an uncomfortable part in the literary history of loss. But in recent decades its affective meanings and ethical implications have been recast by narratives that appear at first sight to foil solace altogether. Illuminating this striking archive, Discrepant Solace considers writers who engage with consolation not as an aesthetic salve but as an enduring problematic, one that unravels at the centre of emotionally challenging works of late twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction and life-writing. The book understands solace as a generative yet conflicted aspect of style, where microelements of diction, rhythm, and syntax capture consolation's alternating desirability and contestation. With a wide-angle lens on the contemporary scene, David James examines writers who are rarely considered in conversation, including Sonali Deraniyagala, Colson Whitehead, Cormac McCarthy, W.G. Sebald, Doris Lessing, Joan Didion, J. M. Coetzee, Marilynne Robinson, Julian Barnes, Helen Macdonald, Ian McEwan, Colm Toibin, Kazuo Ishiguro, Denise Riley, and David Grossman. These figures overturn critical suppositions about consolation's kinship with ideological complaisance, superficial mitigation, or dubious distraction, producing unsettling perceptions of solace that shape the formal and political contours of their writing. Through intimate readings of novels and memoirs that explore seemingly indescribable experiences of grief, trauma, remorse, and dread, James demonstrates how they turn consolation into a condition of expressional possibility without ever promising us relief. He also supplies vital traction to current conversations about the stakes of thinking with contemporary writing to scrutinize affirmative structures of feeling, revealing unexpected common ground between the operations of literary consolation and the urgencies of cultural critique. Discrepant Solace makes the close reading of emotion crucial to understanding the work literature does in our precarious present.
Mathematician Ian Stewart tells readers what he wishes he had known when he was a student. He takes up subjects ranging from the philosophical to the practical-what mathematics is and why it’s worth doing, the relationship between logic and proof, the role of beauty in mathematical thinking, the future of mathematics, how to deal with the peculiarities of the mathematical community, and many others.
By piecing the lives of selected individuals into a grand mosaic, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin explores the development of artistic innovation over 3,000 years. A hugely ambitious chronicle of the arts that Boorstin delivers with the scope that made his Discoverers a national bestseller. Even as he tells the stories of such individual creators as Homer, Joyce, Giotto, Picasso, Handel, Wagner, and Virginia Woolf, Boorstin assembles them into a grand mosaic of aesthetic and intellectual invention. In the process he tells us not only how great art (and great architecture and philosophy) is created, but where it comes from and how it has shaped and mirrored societies from Vedic India to the twentieth-century United States.
The selections contained in these volumes from the papers and letters of Leibniz are intended to serve the student in two ways: first, by providing a more adequate and balanced conception of the full range and penetration of Leibniz's creative intellectual powers; second, by inviting a fresher approach to his intellectual growth and a clearer perception of the internal strains in his thinking, through a chronological arrangement. Much confusion has arisen in the past through a neglect of the develop ment of Leibniz's ideas, and Couturat's impressive plea, in his edition of the Opuscu/es et fragments (p. xii), for such an arrangement is valid even for incomplete editions. The beginning student will do well, however, to read the maturer writings of Parts II, III, and IV first, leaving Part I, from a period too largely neglected by Leibniz criticism, for a later study of the still obscure sources and motives of his thought. The Introduction aims primarily to provide cultural orientation and an exposition of the structure and the underlying assumptions of the philosophical system rather than a critical evaluation. I hope that together with the notes and the Index, it will provide those aids to the understanding which the originality of Leibniz's scientific, ethical, and metaphysical efforts deserve.
When I began to study psychology a half century ago, it was defined as "the study of behavior and experience." By the time I completed my doctorate, shortly after the end of World War II, the last two words were fading rapidly. In one of my first graduate classes, a course in statistics, the professor announced on the first day, "Whatever exists, exists in some number." We dutifully wrote that into our notes and did not pause to recognize that thereby all that makes life meaningful was being consigned to oblivion. This bland restructuring-perhaps more accurately, destruction-of the world was typical of its time, 1940. The influence of a narrow scientistic attitude was already spreading throughout the learned disciplines. In the next two decades it would invade and tyrannize the "social sciences," education, and even philosophy. To be sure, quantification is a powerful tool, selectively employed, but too often it has been made into an executioner's axe to deny actuality to all that does not yield to its procrustean demands.