By: Anne E. Bromley, University Communications
In this pragmatic, materialistic world, there scarcely seems room to follow the quest for truth, or to live a life devoted to compassion, or courage. But these ideals ought to be as important now as they ever were, according to Mark Edmundson’s latest book, “Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals.”
Edmundson, a University Professor and a member of the University of Virginia’s English department for almost 30 years, has written an impassioned argument for reviving the ideals of courage, compassion and wisdom, by studying major writers, poets, philosophers and religious figures.
Whether a reader knows Homer’s “Iliad” or Plato’s “The Republic,” has fallen in love with the Romantic poets, recited Shakespeare on stage or pored over the works of Sigmund Freud – all of whom Edmundson discusses as guides to, or critics of, the ideals – he or she can reap their wisdom through the chapters of “Self and Soul” and perhaps be inspired to learn more about those seekers who, over the ages, have pursued what matters most in life.
The author of 11 books, Edmundson has published academic works, such as “Literature Against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida,” and “Towards Reading Freud,” several memoirs, including “The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll” and last year’s “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game,” as well as essay collections, such as “Why Teach?” A prolific cultural critic, his essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The American Scholar, the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education and U.Va.-affiliated journals Hedgehog Review and Virginia Quarterly Review.