Any history of philosophy will inevitably be a subjective history of philosophy. Will Durant has a strong grip on the philosopies of various great people and does a good job at simplifying the more complex ideas. However, there are some curious exclusions here; the pre-socratics are omitted, Descartes is only mentioned in relation to others (although it is clear he does not like him too much, which is understandable), Hobbes and Locke are also omitted. Since the book was written in the early 20th century, obviously some more recent philosophers are also missing. Personally, I wish he spent slightly less time detailing the lives of some of these philosophers and instead spent that time analysing more of their works. Still, I understand the need of context and to paint the people from whence the philosophies originated. It's a great, engaging listen.
I thought the 'part 1' in the title referred to this being the first book of À la recherche du temps perdu, It's not - Swann's Way is split into two parts. That being said, I thought the performance by John Rowe was amazing. As for the book - well, no wonder it's considered one of the greatest pieces of literature. I'm listening to this while at work, and even though I sometimes drop out and aren't paying attention every now and then, the writing is so amazing just listening to the words and sentences is a reward in itself.
I will definitively come back to this book.
I finished this 23 hour long audiobook in 2 days, which reveals how riveted I was. The prose is, to my ears/eyes, wildly fluctuating in quality - sometimes succumbing to cliches, dullness and awkward missteps, other times imaginative, suspenseful and engaging. The book does however have a strong narrative drive, and I was compelled to keep listening. As this is considered a postmodern crime/horror novel, it leans heavily on using stereotypes and archetypes from these genres. To me, this takes away a lot of the potential horror this book could've conveyed. I liked the ending, although I understand how it might disappoint some listeners. I would've gone into more depth as to why I think so, but doing so will reveal too much of the story. If the premise of the book excites you I recommend you give it a listen, just keep your mind open. The part standing out the most to me is the chase towards the end and the events following.
The narrator does a wonderful job, giving just the right cadence and richness to each character. The narrator alone gives this an extra star.
The printouts of websites etc did nothing for me and felt gimmicky.
All in all a good but flawed listen. Kept me at the edge of my seat most of the time, many interesting choices but as I'm finished not particularly rewarding or memorable.
Bill Bryson has the ability to make any subject - no matter how dry, seemingly irrelevant or complicated - into compelling, informative and funny prose. He has a pleasant, relaxed voice. The book jumps from subject to subject, historic person to historic person, with a self confident, relaxed grip on what it wants to convey. I finished the book feeling genuinely enlightened and wanting to dwelve deeper into some of the subjects in the book (particularly the reemerging history of architecture)
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