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Breaking Bread with the Dead

Reading the Past in Search of a Tranquil Mind

Alan Jacobs

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01 October 2020
Literature: history & criticism
Should we still bother with the supposedly great works of past ages? Aristotle believed that men were naturally superior to women. Kant wrote that 'Humanity is at its greatest perfection in the race of the whites.' The Founding Fathers declared it 'self-evident' that all men are created equal, but nevertheless owned slaves. Small wonder that many readers prefer to close the book on the past. Rather than dwell amid the squalor of history, shouldn't we focus our attention on hopes for a better world?

The literary scholar Alan Jacobs hears you. He gets it. But you're wrong.

In a scintillating work that weaves together the Book of Genesis and Thomas Pynchon, the Roman poet Horace and Simone Weil, Jacobs shows how our encounters with the past in all its disturbing strangeness may be our best chance at winning a measure of mental freedom.
By:   Alan Jacobs
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 204mm,  Width: 138mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   314g
ISBN:   9781788162999
ISBN 10:   1788162994
Pages:   192
Publication Date:   01 October 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Alan Jacobs is the Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University. He has written for the Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, and Harper's and is the author of several books, including a biography of C. S. Lewis, an essay on the pleasures of reading, and How To Think.

Reviews for Breaking Bread with the Dead: Reading the Past in Search of a Tranquil Mind

Alan Jacobs has given us a toolbox stocked with concepts that balance the pop of a self-help book with the depth of a college seminar. Breaking Bread With the Dead is an invitation, but even more than that, an emancipation: from the buzzing prison of the here and now, into the wide-open field of the past. -- Robin Sloan * author of Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore * This elegant book moved me, especially when it led me to rethink time with my mentors and how they taught me, to paraphrase Wordsworth, what to love and how to love. On so many pages, I found things I know I will carry forward. -- Sherry Turkle * author of Alone Together * A beautiful case for reading old books as a way to cultivate personal depth in shallow times. Breaking Bread with the Dead is timely and timeless - the perfect ending to the trilogy Alan Jacobs began with The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and continued with How To Think. I've stolen so much from these books. So will you. -- Austin Kleon * bestselling author of Steal Like An Artist * Alan Jacobs captures the nervous joy of helping students discover that writers of the long ago and far away can mitigate the feeling of unmoored loneliness that afflicts so many young people today. Never scolding or didactic, Breaking Bread with the Dead is a compassionate book about the saving power of reading, and a moving account of how writers of the past can help us cope in the frantic present. -- Andrew Delbanco * author of The War Before the War *


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