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    Description

    When 16-year-old Alfred Rosenberg is called into his headmaster's office for anti-Semitic remarks he made during a school speech, he is forced, as punishment, to memorize passages about Spinoza from the autobiography of the German poet Goethe. Rosenberg is stunned to discover that Goethe, his idol, was a great admirer of the Jewish 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Long after graduation, Rosenberg remains haunted by this "Spinoza problem": How could the German genius Goethe have been inspired by a member of a race Rosenberg considers so inferior to his own, a race he was determined to destroy?

    Spinoza himself was no stranger to punishment during his lifetime. Because of his unorthodox religious views, he was excommunicated from the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656, at the age of 24, and banished from the only world he had ever known. Though his life was short and he lived without means in great isolation, he nonetheless produced works that changed the course of history.

    Over the years, Rosenberg rose through the ranks to become an outspoken Nazi ideologue, a faithful servant of Hitler, and the main author of racial policy for the Third Reich. Still, his Spinoza obsession lingered. By imagining the unexpected intersection of Spinoza's life with Rosenberg's, internationally best-selling novelist Irvin D. Yalom explores the mindsets of two men separated by 300 years. Using his skills as a psychiatrist, he explores the inner lives of Spinoza, the saintly secular philosopher, and of Rosenberg, the godless mass murderer.

    ©2012 Irvin D. Yalom (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

    Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Spinoza Problem

    Notations
    Global
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    Commentaires - Veuillez sélectionner les onglets ci-dessous pour changer la provenance des commentaires.

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    • Global
      1 out of 5 stars
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    Aggravating!

    Chapters in this longish novel alternate between the life of 17th century philosopher Bento Spinoza, of Jewish origin and training, and that of early 20th century Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. As the author himself acknowledges in the epilogue, there is little to link them except that Spinoza’s brilliance and originality could hardly be congruent with the Nazi world vision.

    There are no parallels between their lives, Spinoza being excommunicated from his synagogue and going on to live a studious life and Rosenberg following the ebb and flow of Nazi power till his execution after being tried in Nuremberg. Thus, the novel is simply the author’s clumsy means of expressing his own views on various topics. One dimensional characters and artificial dialogues are used to stage discussions (that are not necessarily uninteresting) on religion and philosophy. This, however, by no means leads to a decent novel. Action is excruciating slow, what is justified in Spinoza’s case since little is known of life but not for Rosenberg’s whose vicissitudes in the Nazi régime could certainly have been more developed.

    Overall, there appears no justification to recommend this work to anyone.

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    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    • Marian
    • 22/04/2019

    Loud, Modern, Imaginative with Catharsis

    I have read several Yalom works and am unsettled by The Spinoza Problem. I am apt to listen to it again on Audible to make a better assessment. This book is more a work of psychology and imagination than a volume of specific history and raw philosophy. This makes sense as Yalom is a psychiatrist, so he uses the profession he knows to create inspired fiction with the talking cure. He projects himself into the past. He imagines deep conversations and applied philosophy with Spinoza and others. Perhaps the title is my first question: was the excommunication situation a Spinoza “problem” or a societal problem? I was uncomfortable with the loudness and impassioned performance of the book at the beginning, but I adjusted to it after a while. The needs of individuals in a group and the demands of the group to regulate its members repeat as frequent themes in society and literature. Here, the exclusivity of “Aryan” ideologies, and Judaica-related scenarios clash. Religious demands are subject to fashionable trends, even when the claim is for 5000 years of continuity. Nazi-era contrasts and the psychological issues of identity conflicts appear in an uncomfortable and judged way. I felt that Yalom achieved a personal catharsis with the project, and he clearly had a lot of pent-up tensions released in this projective drama. The result is sedentary, post-Freudian, loud, modern, and diseased, but I could enumerate the same list for modern society itself. Here is a question - - how would Spinoza feel about being “reclaimed” by those who banned him during his life? Does the idea, “Once a Jew, Always a Jew,” trump Spinoza’s experience of mutual rejection in his lifetime? It feels to me the snagging of Spinoza despite his philosophy and experiences to be more offensive than even a posthumous proxy baptism because he did not want or identify with the Bible’s legacy. Modern Judaism (generally speaking) would not ban him today, so, yes, the lesson persists: one century’s absolute dogmatism is another century’s shame.

    3 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      3 out of 5 stars
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    • Orlando Hill
    • 02/09/2020

    Boring dialogue and unconvincing characters

    Painfully dull. Doesn't work as historical fiction. By comparison, The Schopenhauer Cure was much more enjoyable because the author didn't try to convey history through invented scenes and dialogue. The chapters on Alfred Rosenberg were more believable, presumably because it's easier to create less intelligent characters, but even those were tortuous.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    • Patrick
    • 12/11/2020

    worth reading.

    reading it in the end of 2020, this book seems too relevant. highly recommend a good read.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      4 out of 5 stars
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    Image de profile pour Louis novak
    • Louis novak
    • 31/05/2020

    Narrator needs to pronounce putsch properly.

    As Spinoza had a few problems that were reproduced with Rosenberg the titular problem should be spelled out.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    Image de profile pour Anthony Penn
    • Anthony Penn
    • 04/02/2020

    Yalom comes through again!

    Yalom does an outstanding job once again. With each book I become more and more of a fan. Pure genius!

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    • edwen gomez
    • 01/01/2020

    Love it,

    highly recommend it, one of my favourite books of all time, it keep you interested on it with the overlapping of the story.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    • IAN
    • 25/11/2019

    History

    Delving into a history that I had a little knowledge of has left me pleased to have picked up this book. Very interesting how influential writing can be taken up and driven to atrocious ends.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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    Image de profile pour Peter U. Malyshev
    • Peter U. Malyshev
    • 08/04/2021

    An excellent and thought provoking book!

    I learnt a great deal about 17th century philosophy and particularly the development of Jewish thought in Europe. At the same time, it revealed a great deal about the origins of the Nazi thought and the antecedents of “rational egoism” taken to the extreme. Ironically, Spinoza’s rationalism lacked the moral core, which every religion carries and I think the author indirectly accuses “rationalism” of contributing to the problems of the 20th century in the absence of the moral compass, that a religion provides. Fascinating. And a very good delivery.

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    • Amazon Customer
    • 30/03/2021

    A fantastic read

    This was an exquisite read. The author has written a beautiful novel and the fantastic narration added to the experience.

    • Global
      3 out of 5 stars
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    • Zeno
    • 22/02/2021

    A far cry from When Nietzsche Wept

    An odd novel, intriguing from beginning to end with two utterly main characters, separated by a few hundred years, who couldn't be more different. Intriguing to dive into the life of Spinoza, for sure, less so the time swimming with Rosenberg. But both stories are illuminating, even if I found them a bit clunky, the scenes to convey their struggles very much on the nose.

    Reading it, I was convinced that it must have been written long before "When Nietzsche Wept", another construct of fiction about two very real people. I found "When Nietzsche Wept", penned in 1992, far better compared to the 2012 Spinoza Problem ... maybe it was me, but I just thought the earlier novel was crafted far more interestingly - where as the obviously fake scenes with both Spinoza and Rosenberg to allow us to learn about their philosophies and struggles ... like I said, clunky. Still worth taking the time, a good way to learn about Spinoza and his world ... forget Rosenberg.