What We Are Reading Today: The Quotable Thoreau by Jeffrey S. Cramer

Updated 05 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Quotable Thoreau by Jeffrey S. Cramer

  • The Quotable Thoreau, the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Thoreau quotations ever assembled, gathers more than 2,000 memorable passages from this iconoclastic American author

 Few writers are more quotable than Henry David Thoreau. His books, essays, journals, poems, letters, and unpublished manuscripts contain an inexhaustible treasure of epigrams and witticisms, from the famous (“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”) to the obscure (“Who are the estranged? Two friends explaining”) and the surprising (“I would exchange my immortality for a glass of small beer this hot weather”). 

The Quotable Thoreau, the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Thoreau quotations ever assembled, gathers more than 2,000 memorable passages from this iconoclastic American author, social reformer, environmentalist, and self-reliant thinker. Including Thoreau’s thoughts on topics ranging from sex to solitude, manners to miracles, government to God, life to death, and everything in between, the book captures Thoreau’s profundity as well as his humor (“If misery loves company, misery has company enough”).  Drawing primarily on The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, published by Princeton University Press, The Quotable Thoreau is thematically arranged, fully indexed, richly illustrated, and thoroughly documented. 

For the student of Thoreau, it will be invaluable. For those who think they know Thoreau, it will be a revelation. And for the reader seeking sheer pleasure, it will be a joy.


What We Are Reading Today: Plato’s Fable 

Updated 18 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Plato’s Fable 

  • Plato’s Fable is not simply a work of textual exegesis. It is an attempt to move debates within political theory beyond their current location

AUTHOR:  Joshua Mitchell

This book is an exploration of Plato’s Republic that bypasses arcane scholarly debates. Plato’s Fable provides refreshing insight into what, in Plato’s view, is the central problem of life: The mortal propensity to adopt defective ways of answering the question of how to live well.

How, in light of these tendencies, can humankind be saved? Joshua Mitchell discusses the question in unprecedented depth by examining one of the great books of Western civilization.

He draws us beyond the ancients/moderns debate, and beyond the notion that Plato’s Republic is best understood as shedding light on the promise of discursive democracy. Instead, Mitchell argues, the question that ought to preoccupy us today is neither “reason” nor “discourse,” but rather “imitation.” To what extent is man first and foremost an “imitative” being? This, Mitchell asserts, is the subtext of the great political and foreign policy debates of our times.

Plato’s Fable is not simply a work of textual exegesis. It is an attempt to move debates within political theory beyond their current location. Mitchell recovers insights about the depth of the problem of mortal imitation from Plato’s magnificent work, and seeks to explicate the meaning of Plato’s central claim — that “only philosophy can save us.”

Joshua Mitchell is professor of Government at Georgetown University, where he teaches the history of political thought.