Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE OLD WAYS ARE BEST

Having finished the new John Grisham novel, and having then re-read an old one on the shelves in my Paris apartment, I was casting about for something else with which to pass the time. I toyed with the idea of improving my French by continuing to read Marx's CAPITAL in the French translation [I am at the moment on page 141] when it occurred to me that it might be fun to re-visit GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. I read it more than sixty years ago, as a boy, and though I recall a good deal of the story [who cannot?], and know in a general way that it is a biting satire of English life and politics in the 18th century, I did not have the language in my head.

Sure enough, it is available on-line, and I have now started reading it on my Paris laptop. I am only a few pages into Book One -- Gulliver has awakened to find himself tied down by the slender threads of the Liliputians -- but already, the wit and acerbity of the satire is a delight. In these absurd and dangerous times, when reality threatens to make satire impossible, it is good to return to one of the immortal masters of the genre.

At seventy-eight, I have long since put aside my youthful dreams of a just and rational society. But if I cannot change the world, I can at least in my mind expose the follies and evils that flourish these days.

7 comments:

Marinus said...

That's a fantastic book. I often wonder what exactly Swift's aim with the fourth part with the Houyhnhnms was. I keep being told it's an indication of Swift's of world-weariness and low opinion of humanity, but I wonder instead whether instead it isn't making a mockery of people too enamoured with who they see as their betters. The image of Gulliver spending hours each day neighing at his horses, even admitting they don't speak the language he's trying to imitate, nor for that matter does he really, is simply too ridiculous and pointed for me to see otherwise.

John S. Wilkins said...

I would love to see the satire you would write. It need not be as long as Gulliver's travels, but some kind of present dystopia?

Scaling Factor said...

Please say something about Hitchens.

Scaling Factor said...

Please say something about Hitchens.

Scaling Factor said...

The last line of your post is a near perfect summation of his life's work:

But if I cannot change the world, I can at least in my mind expose the follies and evils that flourish these days.

High Arka said...

"These days," as opposed to which days?

High Arka said...

Mr. Wolff, does your great connection to other humans make you feel any qualms about supporting someone who launches robot bombs that slaughter so many children?

You have a great cheering section of clowns who are impressed by your degree into pursuing your affections, but in a very substantial way, you are a terror of the human race. You are a bloated white wealthy citizen of empire who supports its foulest doings. Your actions stand wholly against your words.

Dead children. In piles. Millions of them. Dripping blood on your pretty keyboard. Do you care enough to stop calling on us to support the mastermind who killed them?