Gorgeous commentary.

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ADAM AND HAVAH

: A TARGUM OF GENESIS 1:26-5:5

Halevi shines new light on a very old story, offering a brilliant interpretation of perhaps the most influential piece of scripture ever written.

It’s said that when second-century Jewish rabbis envisioned heaven, they imagined a great table at which the blessed would sit, arguing over the possible meanings of torah–Jewish teaching–for all eternity. If this is paradise, Shira Halevi is well on her way. Her new tome is a targum–basically a hybrid of translation and commentary–of the opening chapters of Genesis. The allure of writing a targum for a comprehensive thinker like Halevi is evident: the format allows its creator to tease out all (or at least some) of the various meanings of the famously spare Hebrew scriptural text. Thus Halevi fills her elaborately footnoted expansion on the story of Adam and Eve (or Havah) with alternate translations, interpretive traditions, linguistic clarifications and explanatory dialogues. Among its many strengths, her targum is both devout and progressive. The author has an easy familiarity with modern biblical scholarship and willingness to parse stale orthodoxies. Her discussions of gender and theodicy are particularly piercing. Further, her innovative interpretations of this oldest of tales may provide new insights for even experienced readers. Nonetheless, it is clear from the intricacy of Halevi’s introduction–a long and detailed excursion into the technical differences between torah, targum, midrash and other forms of scripture and commentary–that the book will likely appeal to none but the most literate reader of Jewish texts. More casual observers will probably turn away when she writes of “medium[s] for polyvalency” and “triliteral consonantal roots.” But for those willing to immerse themselves in Torah–surely, Halevi’s ideal readers–Adam and Havah offers a myriad of joys.

Gorgeous commentary.

Pub Date: March 30, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4414-9784-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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