The Mystery of Things — A. C. Grayling

Grayling always has something interesting to say, and a carefully-considered and nicely-worded way of saying it. This book is divided into three parts, devoted to Art, History and Science. Each part contains a dozen or so essays on related topics. 

The piece called The Left and High Culture is a good argument showing how and why to avoid the extremes of cultural relativism and cultural elitism. More specifically there are pieces on Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Wagner, Virgil and various other members of the Western canon. And in the present day, he is scathing about the architect Norman Foster and his recent incongruous additions to the London skyline. This all makes me think of a slightly more liberal and less opinionated Roger Scruton.

In the History section, Grayling writes illuminatingly about Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and other historical topics. The section on Science is largely made up of book reviews, short but interesting and informative.

There are a half-dozen or so of these The (whatever) of Things books (for example, The Meaning of Things). I look forward to the compendium edition called The Totality of Things (or perhaps more prosaically, The Book of Things. I would happily read these sorts of things every day.

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