Scrupulously researched, far-reaching, but not without its flaws.

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EPICURUS AND THE PLEASANT LIFE

A PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE

The teachings of Epicurus are explored and applied to contemporary life in this debut philosophical study–cum–self-help guide by Dimitriadis.

The intention of this 500-page study is to “reintroduce pleasure” as an “innate guide to living a healthy and happy life.” Throughout most of his adult life, Dimitriadis admits that he was a corporate climber. In his 50s, he came to the abrupt realization that he no longer recognized himself—he was “distressed, anxious, asking for more and more.” He turned to the works of the great philosophers but found, frustratingly, that their teachings had “no practical application” in his life. He finally stumbled across a letter written by Epicurus—it would prove to be life-changing. His fascination ignited, Dimitriadis spent 12 years fervently researching the ancient Greek philosopher’s teachings, a journey that he believes radically improved his worldview. In this detailed study, the author proposes that contemporary society is characterized by a fear of pleasure. Dimitriadis suggests that all of the “goods” required for happiness are present in the natural world yet regularly overlooked or unappreciated. He sets about identifying and investigating various forms of natural pleasure, such as friendship, food, and knowledge—all critical to Epicurean thinking. His belief is that each individual must choose wisely between the pleasures outlined to discover harmony and happiness. The study goes on to consider ways the teachings of Epicurus can be implemented in contemporary society, where perceptions of natural pleasure, for example friendship, have become skewed or undervalued. Dimitriadis writes with open-hearted enthusiasm for his subject and believes that Epicurean philosophy has the power to change lives: “But worry not as you are inherently well equipped for this journey to the joyful life. With determination and perseverance, you too will find the happiness to which you are entitled.” In his quest for knowledge, the author deftly summarizes a wide range of philosophers including Sartre, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard, tackling complex ideas by keeping sentences short and simple. On occasion, however, he oversimplifies, which results in him losing his intellectual poise: “Plato and Descartes could not be more wrong when they declared that the mind is completely separate from the body.” Granted, this is not an academic thesis—its intention is to enlighten a wider audience beyond that of the university philosophy department. Many will welcome this intentionally simplistic, accessible style while others may consider the approach somewhat glib. A minor technical criticism is that the author struggles with the use of articles, which affects the fluidity of his writing: “Courage is identical with the lack of cowardice and servility.” Still, this is an engaging, admirably earnest bid to help others to live a more fulfilling life via a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

Scrupulously researched, far-reaching, but not without its flaws.

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-387-35308-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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