On Bernard Williams

Nakul Krishna in The Point:

ScreenHunter_1625 Jan. 16 19.43I was summoned to my tutor’s office a day or so after I’d arrived in Oxford. It was the last day of summer. A bumpkin from the tropics, I’d never seen an autumn before. I watched the first leaves falling outside his window and heard the eighteenth-century staircase creaking with the weight of suitcases being heaved into new rooms. He told me I was to study moral philosophy that term and that if I wanted a head start on the reading I could get going onhe reached for his bookshelf with the air of someone going through a practiced routinethis book:Morality: An Introduction to Ethics by Bernard Williams.

My parents were part of the educated Indian middle class who approved of books only as long as they were called, say, Advanced Statistics; when they caught me with a copy of Middlemarch they told me I oughtn’t to be reading storybooks at my age. My adolescent rebellion consisted in spending my pocket money on dog-eared paperbacks with titles like The Logic of the Hydrogen Bomb or Trade Unionism and the Woman Question, and the opinions I acquired from them had somehow got me through my scholarship interview for Oxford. The blue-and-black Pelican before me belonged to the same reassuring aesthetic universe as these other books.

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