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Is God Happy?: Selected Essaysby Leszek Kolakowski
Synopses & Reviews
The late Leszek Kolakowski was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. A prominent anticommunist writer, Kolakowski was also a deeply humanistic thinker, and his meditations on society, religion, morality, and culture stand alongside his political writings as commentaries on intellectual—and everyday—life in the twentieth century.
Kolakowskis extraordinary empathy, humor, and erudition are on full display in Is God Happy?, the first collection of his work to be published since his death in 2009. Accessible and wide ranging, these essays—many of them translated into English for the first time—testify to the remarkable scope of Kolakowskis work. From a provocative and deeply felt critique of Marxist ideology to the witty and self-effacing In Praise of Unpunctuality” to a rigorous analysis of Erasmus model of Christianity and the future of religion, these essays distill Kolakowskis lifelong engagement with the eternal problems of philosophy and some of the most vital questions of our age.
"The word 'mordant' may have been invented to describe a writer such as the late Kolakowski (1927 — 2009), public intellectual, brilliant stylist, and prolific author. This selection of essays not only offers new translations but also spans half a century of the Polish author's work, illustrating his distinctive voice and intellectual preoccupations. The essays in the book are organized loosely into thematic areas — socialism and other political topics; religion, God, and evil; and modernity and the past — but Kolakowski brought to his subjects a mind that sees connections. He was a philosopher engaged with political questions, fiercely anticommunist, and profoundly marked by the moral and political traumas of, first, Nazi and then Soviet-initiated Communist domination of his homeland. Kolakowski knew history and the history of his chosen discipline, philosophy, and it informed his arguments with God and everybody else, conducted in bitingly ironic fashion. He deserves greater appreciation for the inimitable way he articulated the great moral questions that haunted European intellectuals after midcentury and before postmodernism disengaged the intelligentsia. (Feb. 5)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The late Leszek Kolakowski was one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. A prominent anti-communist writer, Kolakowski was also a deeply humanistic thinker, and his empathy, wit, and erudition are on full display in Is God Happy? Accessible and wide-ranging, these essays—many of them translated into English for the first time—testify to the remarkable scope of Kolakowskis work, covering topics ranging from Pascal and Erasmus, to the nature of good and evil, to secularism and socialism. The pieces distil Kolakowskis lifelong engagement with the eternal problems of philosophy and some of the most vital questions of our age.
About the Author
Leszek Kolakowski (19272009) was a professor of the history of philosophy at the University of Warsaw until he was fired and expelled from the Communist Party in 1968. He went into exile the same year. Kolakowski was also a senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford; the author of numerous books, including his masterwork, Main Currents of Marxism; and the recipient of many awards, including the Prix Tocqueville and the John W. Kluge Prize.
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