Wandering through philosophy and coming of age…

11 02 2012

Review of “A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy: a novel” by Charlotte Greig

In my head I’ve been wandering about, wondering if my academic career spent in the sciences has left a gaping hole in the philosophical and historical realm. It’s true, it has, and I feel as if, now, I am running behind myself, trying to catch up.
So the title of this book enticed me, despite the thickly written back cover (which I still haven’t read in its entirety) – very off-putting. And the start of the book is slowish- but I got completely pulled in by Susannah, a woman who screams herself awake, who dreams in multicoloured dreams where she has lengthy conversations with the philosophers she is studying. She is so real, and I’d love to have coffee with her.
She has a great inner debate in this book, as she comes to terms with what she wants in life and in those around her. Her father’s death has crippled both her and her mother and she is struggling to resurface. As she does, she turns to the great philosophers and, while doing it, brings many of their teachings to life in a modern way.
I, of course, having wasted my education, have no idea if she is doing this properly. But it’s enchanting and I buy it and now I actually want to read Kierkegaard. Especially after reading this quote about the Virgin Mary, which comes near the end of the book, “Yet what woman was done greater indignity than Mary, and isn’t it true here that those whom God blesses he damns in the same breath?” (from Fear and Trembling)
A thoughtful, funny, wistful and truthful coming of age story, with an enticing smattering of philosophy.

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