The Spinoza Problem

The Spinoza Problem

4.11 (4,133 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

When sixteen-year-old Alfred Rosenberg is called into his headmaster's office for anti-Semitic remarks he made during a school speech, he is forced, as punishment, to memorize passages about Spinoza from the autobiography of the German poet Goethe. Rosenberg is stunned to discover that Goethe, his idol, was a great admirer of the Jewish seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Long after graduation, Rosenberg remains haunted by this "Spinoza problem" how could the German genius Goethe have been inspired by a member of a race Rosenberg considers so inferior to his own, a race he was determined to destroy? Spinoza himself was no stranger to punishment during his lifetime. Because of his unorthodox religious views, he was excommunicated from the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656, at the age of twenty-four, and banished from the only world he had ever known. Though his life was short and he lived without means in great isolation, he nonetheless produced works that changed the course of history. Over the years, Rosenberg rose through the ranks to become an outspoken Nazi ideologue, a faithful servant of Hitler, and the main author of racial policy for the Third Reich. Still, his Spinoza obsession lingered. By imagining the unexpected intersection of Spinoza's life with Rosenberg's, internationally bestselling novelist Irvin D. Yalom explores the mindsets of two men separated by 300 years. Using his skills as a psychiatrist, he explores the inner lives of Spinoza, the saintly secular philosopher, and of Rosenberg, the godless mass murderer.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 321 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 35.56mm | 539.77g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • BASIC BOOKS
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0465029639
  • 9780465029631
  • 61,600

Review quote

Sir Anthony Hopkins, actor "This is the most intriguing novel I've read in many a year. Irvin Yalom has created a taut, deeply informative page turner. I enthusiastically recommend The Spinoza Problem." Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H.M."Spinoza had no 'real life' outside his reading and writing: he lived in his brilliant mind. So how do you write about a philosopher--a writer beloved of Goethe, Schopenhauer, and so many other thinkers--who spent most of his time in thought? And how do you regard Spinoza--a Jew whose work helped to usher in the Enlightenment--if, indeed, you're a Nazi? Irvin Yalom is just the writer to take on such a problem, and he solves it, with his own novelistic brilliance, in this vibrant book. In my view, Yalom is one of the most eclectic, wide-ranging, and dazzling writers of our time." Martin E. P. Seligman, author of Flourish"Irvin Yalom is the most significant writer of psychological fiction in the world today. I didn't think he could top When Nietzsche Wept or The Schopenhauer Cure, but he has. The Spinoza Problem is a masterpiece."show more

About Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including Love's Executioner, Theory and Practice in Group Psychotherapy, and When Nietzsche Wept. He lives with his wife in Palo Alto, California.show more

Rating details

4,133 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 39% (1,617)
4 39% (1,597)
3 17% (722)
2 4% (153)
1 1% (44)
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