Blending intellectual speculation with anecdote and personal reflection, the Renaissance thinker and writer Montaigne pioneered the modern essay. This selection contains his idiosyncratic and timeless writings on subjects as varied as the virtues of solitude, the power of the imagination, the pleasures of reading, the importance of sleep and why we sometimes laugh and cry at the same things. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.
Ron Haflidson places the theology of Augustine in conversation with contemporary authors, who warn of the dangers of abandoning solitude for constant (often technological) connection. Haflidson addresses an essential question that has previously been neglected: What difference does it make to the practice of solitude if one believes that even in the absence of any human company, God is always intimately present? For Augustine, solitude is a moral necessity: he recommends that we regularly retreat from the crowd into the depths of our conscience, where we can dwell alone in the company of God, and enter into dialogue before and with God about who we are and how we love. Throughout this book, Haflidson pairs close readings of Augustine with those of noted cartographers of our inner lives, literary greats including Jane Austen, George Eliot, Marilynne Robinson and George Saunders. This book explores what undiscovered possibilities may lie in solitude.
..".The dead can speak. Their long forgotten words can be reborn, dug out of the trashcans of time, revitalized and transformed to continue their mission of enlightening audiences across the barrier of time and place, across generational, cultural and millennial events so diverse yet powerful that to minimize those historical impacts would be nothing more than criminal - just as to let those words long out of print which impacted during their original day, be just as significant a travesty against enlightenment --as ignoring History itself - if they are too not reborn in new writings during our time..." A young veteran of a middle-eastern war flees his country of birth, relocating to Amsterdam. There, living the life of a civil servant by day and a "slam" poet by night, he attempts to discover some order and put some sense into his life while recovering from the violent past he has known. After falling in love with a Dutch woman, he watches as the dissolution of his marriage takes place before his eyes, accepting it, yet doing nothing to remedy or try and restore the relationship before it is too late. At his place of work, our hero stumbles across an insidious secret that complicates his life even further, as he is forced to test his own morality in his efforts to reveal a terrible hidden history to the rest of the world. Strangely, at about the same time the above events are taking place, our main protagonist - a lover of literature and the arts - stumbles across a book in a little shop run by the "Moonies" on a backstreet of the city. The book, entitled "Solitude," authored in the year 1837 by a forgotten Swiss philosopher, named John George Zimmerman, becomes the young man's "gospel," serving as a tool, guiding him in his quest as he tries to integrate his past into his present and ultimately some kind of future working reality. A magical synergy occurs as the young man's life and story begins to mystically become as one with the ruminations on Solitude of JGZ. And as the philosopher's words begin to merge with those of our hero, it becomes difficult for the reader to separate the two "authors" and the lives they have lead so many decades apart from one another.
Throughout the ages seekers after truth have spoken of the benefits of solitude. This selection of poetry and prose draws on the riches of Western literature as well as the wisdom of the Buddhist tradition, to depict the many delights and challenges of being alone.