Breaking Bread with the Dead (Hardback)

Reading the Past in Search of a Tranquil Mind

Alan Jacobs

The past isn't cancelled: it's not even past. How to cherish authors from Aristotle to Edith Wharton without succumbing to their most regrettable parts

A Spectator Book of the Year

It's fashionable to think of the writers of the past as irredeemably tarnished by prejudice. Aristotle despised women. John Milton, the great champion of free speech, wouldn't have granted it to Catholics. Edith Wharton's imaginative sympathies stopped short of her Jewish characters. But what if it is only through the works of such individuals that we can achieve a necessary perspective on the troubles of the present?

Join literary scholar Alan Jacobs for a truly nourishing feast of learning. Discover what Homer can teach us about force, what Machiavelli has to say about reading and what Charlotte Brontë reveals about race. Not all the guests are people you might want to invite into your home, but they all bring something precious to the table. In Breaking Bread with the Dead, an omnivorous reader draws us into close and sympathetic engagement with minds across the ages, from Horace to Donna Haraway.

Publication date: 10/09/2020

£12.99

ISBN: 9781788162999

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

Breaking Bread with the Dead (Ebook)

Reading the Past in Search of a Tranquil Mind

Alan Jacobs

The past isn't cancelled: it's not even past. How to cherish authors from Aristotle to Edith Wharton without succumbing to their most regrettable parts

A Spectator Book of the Year

It's fashionable to think of the writers of the past as irredeemably tarnished by prejudice. Aristotle despised women. John Milton, the great champion of free speech, wouldn't have granted it to Catholics. Edith Wharton's imaginative sympathies stopped short of her Jewish characters. But what if it is only through the works of such individuals that we can achieve a necessary perspective on the troubles of the present?

Join literary scholar Alan Jacobs for a truly nourishing feast of learning. Discover what Homer can teach us about force, what Machiavelli has to say about reading and what Charlotte Brontë reveals about race. Not all the guests are people you might want to invite into your home, but they all bring something precious to the table. In Breaking Bread with the Dead, an omnivorous reader draws us into close and sympathetic engagement with minds across the ages, from Horace to Donna Haraway.

Publication date: 10/09/2020

£10.99

ISBN: 9781782835844

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B085STY6NV

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

Reviews for Breaking Bread with the Dead

'Alan Jacobs's Breaking Bread With the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind should be on everyone's reading list in these times of what a friend of mine calls 'disagreement-phobia' on all sides in politics and life. Jacobs thoughtfully discusses the benefits of reading long-dead authors - even though Edith Wharton was an anti-Semite and David Hume a racist. In this way we practise encountering minds different, and sometimes objectionable, to our own, and find the good, useful and beautiful admixed with the difficult and repulsive. Right and left, young and old, we need this skill more than ever now.'

Naomi Alderman, Books of the Year Spectator

'Alan Jacobs has given us a toolbox stocked with concepts that balance the pop of a self-help book with the depth of a college seminar. Breaking Bread With the Dead is an invitation, but even more than that, an emancipation: from the buzzing prison of the here and now, into the wide-open field of the past.'

Robin Sloan author of Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

'This elegant book moved me, especially when it led me to rethink time with my mentors and how they taught me, to paraphrase Wordsworth, what to love and how to love. On so many pages, I found things I know I will carry forward.'

Sherry Turkle author of Alone Together

'A beautiful case for reading old books as a way to cultivate personal depth in shallow times. Breaking Bread with the Dead is timely and timeless - the perfect ending to the trilogy Alan Jacobs began with The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and continued with How To Think. I've stolen so much from these books. So will you.'

Austin Kleon bestselling author of Steal Like An Artist

'Alan Jacobs captures the nervous joy of helping students discover that writers of "the long ago and far away" can mitigate the feeling of unmoored loneliness that afflicts so many young people today. Never scolding or didactic, Breaking Bread with the Dead is a compassionate book about the saving power of reading, and a moving account of how writers of the past can help us cope in the frantic present.'

Andrew Delbanco author of The War Before the War

Alan Jacobs

Alan Jacobs

Alan Jacobs is the Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University. He has written extensively for The Atlantic, WSJ, The New Atlantis, and Harper's and is the author of several books including a well-received biography of C. S. Lewis and a book on the pleasures of reading.