- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; with music CD edition (November 7, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 023114654X
- ISBN-13: 978-0231146548
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,947,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Four Jews on Parnassus--A Conversation: Benjamin, Adorno, Scholem, Schonberg by Carl Djerassi With Illustrations by Gabriele Seethaler with music CD Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Djerassi's latest project probably works better in theory than in practice: a "dramatized conversation" among "four extraordinary intellectuals of the twentieth century," philosopher Walter Benjamin, intellectuals Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Scholem, and composer Arnold Schönberg. Djerassi decided on this group, he says, because they "belonged to the peculiar subset of German and Austrian bourgeois Jews of the pre-World War II generation... more Berlinish or Viennese than their non-Jewish compatriots" (not incidentally the same subset to which Djerassi assigns himself). In an attempt to provide further insight into the Jewish struggle with identity and the overlooked parts of these men's private lives, he imagines separate conversations among their wives as well (each an "accomplished and energetic" woman). Author, playwright and chemist (who developed the birth control pill) Djerassi (Cantor's Delimma: A Novel, This Man's Pill: Reflections on the 50th Birthday of the Pill) will pique readers' curiosity, but will probably only hold the attention of academics who don't mind a surfeit of esoteric references and philosophical flights of fancy.
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A beautiful book. (Frederic Raphael Times Literary Supplement)
The prodigiously illustrated book is a readable treatment of an important subject. (Booklist)
These four titular mid-20th century Jewish intellectuals from Germany and Austria come back to life with vigor. (Library Journal)
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Now, here's a strange thing: the most thrilling media-bending creation that we at post-Gutenberg have met is not by a gangling, google-eyed nineteen year-old muttering `mashup' and `re-mix' in sleeptalk, but by someone who will be ninety in October, writing imaginatively in voices brought back from the dead.
Carl Djerassi, who made his name as an inventor of birth control pills and has won high honours as both a scientist and technologist, is somehow cramming at least four lives into a single lifespan. His harbinger of mixed-media publishing's future evolution is a hybrid of ingeniously animated philosophical debate, art appreciation, experimental graphics and dramatization. It comes pressed between cardboard covers, titled Four Jews on Parnassus, and fitted with a pocket holding a CD compilation of clips from musical tributes by five composers to a single painting by Paul Klee.
We will call the result simply a book for shorthand. The right-sounding term for it has yet to be invented. It is available as an e-book**, but the images in it - roughly half of them feats of larky digital tinkering, and as essential to its purposes as the pictures John Berger chose for Ways of Seeing were to his - are best savoured on paper. Rolls Royce-grade colour printing on luscious glossy pages makes Four Jews on Parnassus virtually pirate-proof; cheap knock-offs are inconceivable.
If, as we believe, the only adequate reply to a great poem is a dance, if not another poem, then Four Jews is a re-creation ... [ continues here: [...]]
I read till now till the dialogue of the wife's, which I jumped by the end because of boredom. What a shallow, uninteresting book. Nothing about the philosophical insights or very little. I am now reading the angelus novus part. Till now I read more in Wikipedia about than here. Maybe it will change, but meanwhile if I would have been an editor, I would have never published such a shallow, charicatural and repetitive work.