Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Yesterday my private library was enlarged ( or I would say enriched ) with five beautiful books. That is, they all look beautiful, and I am almost sure that I will enjoy reading each of them. I asked my parents to send the books to me, and they included them in a big parcel, to which they added a nice set of summer blankets, some presents for their grandchildren, and four packages of licorice and winegums. Right now I am eating some of the latter. One book came out a little more than a month ago, as part of the annual Book Week in Holland. This year its theme was national history, and the former director of the Rijksmuseum, Henk van Os, wrote an essay ( or several short essays ) about national history and art. I will take this booklet with me on one of my trips to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem in the coming months, it seems to be perfect for reading in the train. Maarten van Rossem is a historian who specialized in the history of the United States of America. He regularly appears on Dutch television, and is known for his insightful and often humorous and cynical commentaries on many different contemporary issues, not all of them related to the USofA. Last years he published a collection of essays and commentaries under the title "Heeft Geschiedenis Nut?" ( a phrase which is difficult to translate: Does history have/serve a purpose?, Is there a use for historiography? ). In it, he writes among other things about the historiography of World War II and the Holocaust, which makes this particular book of his even more interesting for me than his other publications, both personally and professionally.
The most helpful, demanding and aesthetic addition to my personal book collection today is a trilogy in German, Sphaeren by the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. I had come across his name a few times on the internet before, but by chance I read some articles about/interviews with him on the website of the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer ( 1995, 2000, 2004 ), and it seems that some of his ideas about the place of man in ( Europe's ) society ( -ies ) could be very useful for my thesis. The three thick tomes, in a beautiful paperback edition, come in a nice box. I am not sure whether I will read all three volumes from cover to cover ( I am not a great expert and fan of modern philosophy, and although I love the German language and read it quite easily and well I am not sure if reading all of the more than 2500 pages of Sloterdijkian prose will not be a bit too much), but several chapters appear to be very interesting and relevant for my research, I already found some useful phrases and quotes.

No comments: