CLOSING NOTES

Books

From Shakespeare to alien abductions

May 17 2004
CLOSING NOTES

Books

From Shakespeare to alien abductions

May 17 2004

Books

From Shakespeare to alien abductions

A. C. Grayling is a distinguished academic philosopher (University of London) who also takes a leading part in real-world debates about ethics (assisted dying, workplace drug testing) as a newspaper columnist and adviser to various British commissions. And he’s the author of The Mystery of Things (McArthur), a beguiling collection of short essays on an eclectic array of topics. Grayling tackles the precise nature of Shakespeare’s genius; whether the different spellings of the surname used by the three painters of the Breugel family point to deeper differences among them; alien abductions; the lost traditions of classical education and the lessons Grayling learned from Virgil, and a whole lot more. His prose is excellent-Goethe’s wide-ranging intellect is captured in the succinct “he wrote Faust and he discovered the human intermaxilary bone.”

Grayling may not have made any anatomical discoveries to match those of the 18thcentury German artist and savant, but the span of his interests is no less vast.