Sunday Nov. 26 is the birthday of Marilynne Robinson, the renowned novelist and essayist!
Marilynne Robinson’s next book, to be released in 2018, is What Are We Doing Here?: Essays
In anticipation of this essay collection, we offer the following list of ten of Robinson’s finest essays that can be read in full online!
You will find the title essay of this forthcoming collection
(which first appeared in The NY Review of Books) near the end of this list…
Enjoy these essays!!!
Humanism, Science, and the Radical Expansion of the Possible
Originally appeared in The Nation
Excerpted from the collection The Givenness of Things: Essays
Humanism was the particular glory of the Renaissance. The recovery, translation, and dissemination of the literatures of antiquity created a new excitement, displaying so vividly the accomplishments and therefore the capacities of humankind, with consequences for civilization that are great beyond reckoning.
The disciplines that came with this awakening, the mastery of classical languages, the reverent attention to pagan poets and philosophers, the study of ancient history, and the adaptation of ancient forms to modern purposes, all bore the mark of their origins yet served as the robust foundation of education and culture for centuries, until the fairly recent past. In muted, expanded, and adapted forms, these Renaissance passions live on among us still in the study of the humanities, which, we are told, are now diminished and threatened. Their utility is in question, it seems, despite their having been at the center of learning throughout the period of the spectacular material and intellectual flourishing of Western civilization. Now we are less interested in equipping and refining thought, more interested in creating and mastering technologies that will yield measurable enhancements of material well-being—for those who create and master them, at least.
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