Tristram Shandy dazzles with linguistic innovation, effervesces with humour ranging from situational to risque, paints portraits with a brush fine but kind, and offers illuminating glimpses into the history of science. But Tristram Shandy, reputedly the world’s first postmodern novel, does not work as a novel.
The best-written science fiction is fiction that tosses flesh-and-blood human beings into challenging environments – in order to confront us with uncomfortable truths to which we’ve become comfortably blind. This is how and why The Handmaid’s Tale works.
Terry Eagleton’s Very Short Introduction to the Meaning of Life is a delectable, digestible introduction to landmark schools of thought whose debates on big questions have shaped European cultural history; and, via that route, global political history.
Mein Kampf (1925; 1926) is a rambling political manifesto, disguised as autobiography. This book offers an insight into the long roots and broad appeal of extreme ideas – and, given the persistence of nationalism, racism, religious extremism, and conspiracy theories – should be required reading for every citizen of a contemporary democracy.
Making Sense (2020) is an accessible introduction to key topics & trends In current science, presented in the ancient epistemological format of the expert dialogue
The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) and Faust (Part One; 1808) are portraits of men isolated: one by hopeless love, the other by scholastic pursuits. Goethe’s two best-known works warn against the dangers of letting one goal subsume all others.
Letter from a Region in My Mind (1962) combines eloquent personal accounts of experiencing racism, with authoritative perspectives on the origins and prognosis of the problem
Crime and Punishment (1866) is an astute analysis of the distinction between moral thinking and moral feeling, and an ode to the power of love to redeem the forsaken
*Illicit* is a satirical social commentary, a tragicomedy of self-sacrifice, crime, transcendence, and tragic redemption set against the insistent grime of a lower-middle-class family stranded between failure and social injustice on the one hand – and resilience and love on the other.
*Slowness* juxtaposes stories and characters, deftly interwoven, in a structure light and airy, never feeling crammed. It is informed by, and engages with, a deep philosophical and literary heritage. The thesis of Slowness is that we moderners have lost the gift for slow living, and thus for remembering. We live fast, therefore we forget – or is it the other way around?