Cynthia Haven in The Book Haven:
A month ago, I received a package from Berlin with a note from Ryan Ruby, author of The Zero and the One. Our point of connection was the French theorist René Girard: “In a pivotal scene, one character discusses an interpretation of Dostoevsky‘s Demons in terms that were largely influenced by Girard’s reading of that book in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel.” According to the book jacket, Ruby’s novel about a friendship at Oxford that takes a dark turn, and considers “the power of dangerous ideas.” From the book itself:
From the earliest days of our friendship, Zach and I sought out philosophers whose names would never have appeared on the reading lists we received before the beginning of each term. To our tutors, such thinkers did not merit serious consideration. Our tutors were training us to weigh evidence, parse logic, and refuse counter-examples; they encouraged us to but more stock in the rule than the exception and to put our trust in modest truths that could be easily verified and plainly expressed. Whereas the philosophers who interested us were the ones who would step right to the edge of the abyss – and jump to conclusions; the ones who wagered their sanity when they spun the wheel of thought; the ones, in short, who wrote in blood. In counter-intuitiveness we saw profundity and in obfuscation, poetry. With wide eyes, we plucked paperback after paperback from the shelves at Reservoir, the used bookshop opposite the entrance to Christ Church Meadow, our own personal Nag Hammadi, hunting for insights into the hermetic nature of the universe and ourselves.
I used to frequent that bookshop, though my visits were too brief to consider the place a hotbed of a “dangerous ideas.” And I’m not sure that René’s ideas can be considered “dangerous” ones – we’ll see what you think next spring when my Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard is out with Michigan State University Press. But Hans Abendroth?