My Crazy Century -- A Memoir by Ivan Klima, Grove Atlantic '13, $30, 534 pages, ASIN #0802121705. Grouping of b&w glossy images.
Czech writer Ivan Klima's latest book grows out of a suggestion posed by one of his colleagues that Klima's readers would be interested in his observations about his several-year membership in the Communist Party. "For quite a long time now," writes the author in his Prologue, "I have considered the Communist Party or, more precisely, the Communist movement, a criminal conspiracy against democracy. And it is not pleasant to remember that, even though it was for only a short period, I had been a member of this party."
In reflecting on the proposed premise for the book, Klima noted that Communism today is largely forgotten. "Its revolutionary theories have been refuted by practice. These days people are threatened much more by international terrorism; instead of battling Marxism, democracy is battling radical branches of Islam.
"Perhaps this attempt of mine to recount and analyze what took place in my life might have meaning even for those who consider communism a long-dead idea. In my account, I mainly concentrate on the circumstances that, in this crazy century, often led mankind astray, sometimes with fatal consequences."
Ivan Klima, born in Prague in 1931, has written more than 30 plays, essay collections, and novels.
Piero's Light -- In Search of Piero Della Francesca: A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion.by Larry Witham. Pegasus '14. $28.95, 367 pages, ASIN #1605984949. Index, notes, no bibliography, grouping of color glossy images.
In his latest work, author Larry Witham demonstrates "how art, religion and science came together at the dawn of the modern world in the works of one remarkable artist of the early Italian Renaissance -- Piero della Francesca."
A brief preview from the dust jacket:
"In the heart of Tuscany, Piero della Francesca became a painter and mathematician at the dawn of the Renaissance, revealing his innovative mind in some of the best known images from that period and in his unusual writings on geometry. Yet as a personality, Piero remains a mystery. He leaves an enigmatic legacy that ranges from the merging of religion and mathematics to his use of perspective to make painting 'a true science.'
"In this engaging narrative, Larry Witham transports us to Piero's tumultuous age, a world of princes and popes, soldiers and schisms. Piero's Light also reveals how he was part of the philosophical revival of Platonism, an ancient worldview that would shape the transition of art, religion, and science toward modernity. Just sixteen of Piero's paintings survive, but these images and his writings would fuel some of the greatest art history debates of all time."
Author Larry Witham has written more than 12 books and lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.
The Discipline of Philosophy and the Invention of Modern Jewish Thought by Willi Goetschel, Fordham UPress '13, 270 pages, ASIN #0823244962. Index, notes, no bibliography or illustrations.
From the front cover:
"Exploring the subject of Jewish philosophy as a controversial construction site of the project of modernity, this book examines the implications of the different and often conflicting notions that drive the debate on the question of what Jewish philosophy is or could be. The idea of Jewish philosophy begs the question as such. But 'Jewish philosophy' does not just reflect what 'philosophy' lacks. Rather, it challenges the project of philosophy itself.
"Examining the thought of Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Margarete Susman, Herman Levin Goldschmidt, and others, the book highlights how the most philosophic moments of their works are those in which specific concerns of their 'Jewish questions' inform the rethinking of philosophy's disciplinary in principal terms.
"The long-overdue recognition of the modernity that informs the critical trajectories of Jewish philosophers from Spinoza and Mendelssohn to the present emancipates not just 'Jewish philosophy' from an infelicitous pigeonhole these philosophers so pointedly sought to reject but, more important, emancipates philosophy from its false claims to universalism."
Author Willi Goetschel is professor of German and philosophy at the University of Toronto.