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Looking for Theophrastus

Travels in Search of a Lost Philosopher

Laura Beatty



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Atlantic Books
01 July 2022
Standing on the deck of a ferry boat, Laura Beatty watches as the assembled port and buildings of mainland Greece disappear from view. Her destination is Lesbos, but she's not only travelling across the stretch of glittering blue sea - she's also travelling 2,000 years into the past, to a time when the world was a wild place of gods and warrior kings. It's here she needs to go to retrieve a forgotten philosopher, one who worked side-by-side with Aristotle to learn and to classify the world, to rely on his senses rather than myth to explain what governs the seasons and the soil, to put down on parchment the glorious multiplicity of character types he met on his travels across ancient Greece.

That philosopher is Theophrastus, a gentle, peaceful, wondering man whose work took him from the academies of Athens to the reckless court of Philip of Macedonia, and in time would would inspire Linnaeus' system of classification and, quite possibly, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - and the modern form of the novel that the Tales, in turn inspired. But if one person achieved so much, why is his name so little recognised? In Looking for Theophrastus, Laura Beatty restores this important figure to collective consciousness, and in doing so travels in Theophrastus's own footsteps, exploring how we see, receive and relate to the world around us and questioning what we lose from the modern way of living when we forget those ancients who first taught us how to see.
Imprint:   Atlantic Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 223mm,  Width: 147mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   555g
ISBN:   9781838954369
ISBN 10:   1838954368
Pages:   352
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Laura Beatty is the author of two novels, two biographies and a genre-defying book (part travel, part memoir, part fiction) about a road trip across Europe. Her first novel, Pollard, won the Authors' Club First Novel Award as well as being shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize. She lives in Bath.

Reviews for Looking for Theophrastus: Travels in Search of a Lost Philosopher

A phantasmagorical odyssey, a time-travelling reanimation of the past as full-blooded as Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall... Made luminous with an extraordinary descriptive brilliance, what is learned through this magical, shapeshifting narrative is the preciousness not of conviction but of uncertainty, if it is shared as part of our common humanity. -- Guardian on Lost Property Enchanting... Beatty is a writer of extraordinary power -- Literary Review on Pollard A fierce and wonderful book... This is just the sort of generous, provocative novel the Booker judges should cherish -- Olivia Laing, Observer, on Pollard A wondrous, intoxicating, exquisitely-spun, magic carpet of a book. I'll thank Laura Beatty forever for having unearthed these precious glimpses of Theophrastus, father of natural history and curator of human nature. * Isabella Tree, author of the Sunday Times-bestselling Wilding *

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