Virtual Event: Michael Ignatieff
Finding Solace in Dark Times
in conversation with ARTHUR ISAK APPLBAUM
November 9, 2021
5:00 PM ET
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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University welcome MICHAEL IGNATIEFF—the author of Scar Tissue, Fire and Ashes, and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World—for a discussion of his latest book, On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times. He will be joined in conversation by ARTHUR ISAK APPLBAUM, the Adams Professor of Democratic Values at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and author of Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of On Consolation on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About On Consolation
When we lose someone we love, when we suffer loss or defeat, when catastrophe strikes—war, famine, pandemic—we go in search of consolation. Once the province of priests and philosophers, the language of consolation has largely vanished from our modern vocabulary, and the places where it was offered, houses of religion, are often empty. Rejecting the solace of ancient religious texts, humanity since the sixteenth century has increasingly placed its faith in science, ideology, and the therapeutic.
How do we console each other and ourselves in an age of unbelief? In a series of lapidary meditations on writers, artists, musicians, and their works—from the books of Job and Psalms to Albert Camus, Anna Akhmatova, and Primo Levi—esteemed writer and historian Michael Ignatieff shows how men and women in extremity have looked to each other across time to recover hope and resilience. Recreating the moments when great figures found the courage to confront their fate and the determination to continue unafraid, On Consolation takes those stories into the present, movingly contending that we can revive these traditions of consolation to meet the anguish and uncertainties of our precarious twenty-first century.
Praise for On Consolation
“In an age when we are so much in need of solace, Michael Ignatieff went looking for it in texts and times whose assumptions are profoundly different from our own. The result is a secular reinterpretation of a landscape that has often seemed visible only through a religious lens: it is elegant, humane and intensely rewarding.” —Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity
"It is at once illuminating, moving and itself consoling, to follow Michael Ignatieff as he searches for moments of consolation across the centuries. More often than not, he finds these moments not where one would most expect them but in surprising places―in the failure of Cicero’s stoicism; in Marcus Aurelius’ sleepless nights, in Boethius’ odd flash of bleak comedy, in the illusory dreams of Karl and Jenny Marx. And with resolute honesty Ignatieff follows the search into his own inner life, grappling, as we all must do, with failure, loss, and death." —Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
"A wonderful balance of literary survey and personal reflection, this book is wide-ranging, moving, and stylishly written. It makes the perfect introduction to a genre that never goes out of fashion." —Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live and At the Existentialist Café
The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Safra Center at ethics.harvard.edu.
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