The Spinoza Problem: A Novel by Irvin D. Yalom

By Irvin D. Yalom

In The Spinoza Problem, Irvin Yalom spins truth and fiction into an unforgettable psycho-philosophical novel. A psychiatrist with a deep curiosity in philosophical matters, Yalom together tells the tale of the seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, his philosophy and next excommunication from the Jewish neighborhood, and his obvious impression at the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, whose einsatzgruppe was once dispatched in the course of the moment global conflict to enquire a mysterious “Spinoza Problem.” Seamlessly alternating among Golden Age Amsterdam and Nazi Germany, Yalom investigates the internal lives of those enigmatic males in a story of effect and anxiousness, the origins of fine and evil, and the philosophy of freedom and the tyranny of terror.

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The eternal enemy. ” Surprised by Alfred’s vehemence, Headmaster Epstein and Herr Schäfer exchange concerned glances. Headmaster Epstein probes more deeply. “It appears you wish to avoid that question I asked. Let me try another line of discussion. ” Alfred nods. ” “Ah, yes, the fittest survive. ” “So, Rosenberg, let’s consider the fact that almost all of the peoples and cultures—dozens of them—described in the Bible have become extinct. ” Alfred nods. ” Alfred gulps: “Phoenicians, Moabites . .

Perhaps a story. But entering the museum, I was immediately disappointed. I doubted that this small, sparse museum could bring me closer to Spinoza. The only remotely personal items were the 151 volumes of Spinoza’s own library, and I turned immediately to them. My hosts permitted me free access, and I picked up one seventeenth-century book after another, smelling and holding them, thrilled to touch objects that had once been touched by Spinoza’s hands. But my reverie was soon interrupted by my host: “Of course, Dr.

The twenty-five-year-old Johannes Vermeer takes a final look at his new painting, The Procuress. He scans from right to left. First, the prostitute in a gloriously yellow jacket. Good. Good. The yellow gleams like polished sunlight. And the group of men surrounding her. Excellent—each could easily stroll off the canvas and begin a conversation. He bends closer to catch the tiny but piercing gaze of the leering young man with the foppish hat. Vermeer nods to his miniature self. Greatly pleased, he signs his name with a flourish in the lower right corner.

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