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Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Idealby Rob Riemen
Synopses & Reviews
Already translated into ten languages, this brief testament to the transformative power of ideas is resonating with readers—especially the rising generation—throughout the world.
Nobility of Spirit is a spiritual journey to the source of those values—especially truth, freedom and dignity—that must be sustained in order for civilization to flourish. Riemen explores the tradition from Socrates and Spinoza, to Goethe, Whitman, and Thomas Mann—singular individuals who courageously refused to compromise their ideals, and he engages with them with great insight, intimacy and invention. It is the anti-fascist Mann with whom Riemen feels a particular affinity, and who serves as a beacon to a world free of barbarism. Manns 1945 volume, Nobility of Spirit: Sixteen Essays on the Problem of Humanity, inspires the form of Riemens inquiry. Indeed, Riemens eloquent meditation on "nobility of spirit" begins with an extraordinary encounter with Elisabeth Mann Borghese, guardian of the oceans, and the last surviving daughter of the great author of The Magic Mountain and other masterworks. Riemens slim, powerful volume ends with an essay on Leone Ginsberg, an Italian Jewish intellectual murdered by the Nazis, who implores his wife—the novelist Natalia Ginsburg—to be brave” as he is taken to his death. Ultimately, Riemen calls for all of us to be brave” as we battle those forces—terror, hate and ignorance—that are conspiring against humanity.
In the pages of this slim, powerful book Riemen argues with passion that "nobility of spirit" is the quintessence of a civilized world. In this imaginative and compelling volume, Riemen speaks to every reader who believes in the power of classical ideas to restore Western civilization's highest values.
In the pages of this slim, powerful book Rob Riemen argues with passion that nobility of spirit is the quintessence of a civilized world. It is, as Thomas Mann believed, the sole corrective for human history. Without nobility of spirit, culture vanishes. Yet in the early twenty-first century, a time when human dignity and freedom are imperiled, the concept of nobility of spirit is scarcely considered. Riemen insists that if we hope to move beyond the war on terror and create a life-affirming culture, we must address timeless but neglected questions: What is a good society? Why art? Why culture? What is the responsibility of intellectuals? Why anti-Americanism? Why nihilism? Why the cult of death of fundamentalists? In a series of three essays, the author identifies nobility of spirit in the life and work of Baruch Spinoza and of Thomas Mann; explores the quest for the good society in our own time; and addresses the pursuit of truth and freedom that engaged figures as disparate as Socrates and Leone Ginzburg, a Jewish Italian intellectual murdered by Nazis. The forces now aligned against humanistic values are manifold, observes George Steiner in the foreword to the book. In this imaginative and compelling volume, Riemen addresses these forces and speaks to every reader who believes in the power of classical ideas to restore Western civilization's highest values.
About the Author
Rob Riemen, an essayist and cultural philosopher, is founder of the Nexus Institute, an international center devoted to intellectual reflection and to inspiring Western cultural and philosophical debate. He lives in the Netherlands.
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