Last Works


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Lessons in Leaving

Mark C. Taylor

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $35.00
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For many today, retirement and the leisure said to accompany it have become vestiges of a slower, long-lost time. In a world where the sense of identity is tied to work and careers, to stop working often is to become nobody. In this deeply perceptive and personal exploration of last works, Mark C. Taylor explores the final reflections of writers and thinkers from Kierkegaard to David Foster Wallace. How did they either face or avoid ending and leaving? What do their lessons in ending teach us about living in the time that remains for us?  
Some leavings brought relief, even joy, while others brought pain and suffering. Whether the cause was infirmity, impending death, or simply exhaustion and ennui, the ways these influential voices fell silent offer poignant examples of people negotiating the challenges of ending. Throughout this profound and moving book, Taylor probes how the art of living involves learning to leave gracefully.

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion at Columbia University and a frequent contributor to the New York Times and NPR. His previous books include Speed Limits and After God.

“Modern life is a map of realms or worlds, intellectual and cultural as well as geographic that abut without necessarily connecting. The thinkers whom the larger world needs most are those who have ventured farthest from their starting points without sacrificing intellectual rigor. Such a thinker is Mark C. Taylor.”—Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

“Last Works is a dazzling tapestry of reflection on the final works of writers Mark Taylor has loved through his many transformations. This is Taylor's intellectual autobiography, his relentless and moving quest to understand religion in its many engagements with literature.”—Kevin Hart, The University of Virginia

“As Mark Taylor's brilliant meditation on last works moves towards its own end, it folds one writer's life and language into the next to thicken the strange meanings of thought time: knowing that we die.”—Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World

“Few thinkers have explored the interplay of death and life as personally and with as much depth and creativity as Mark C. Taylor.  In Last Works, he turns to the final writings of his intellectual ghosts for 'lessons in leaving' that speak to everyone.”—Paul Lieberman, author of Gangster Squad

"Mark C. Taylor’s brilliant and nuanced approach to these truly great writers reflects his original path to thinking, which is philosophy as it should be conducted today. Insights from this profound meditation on the human condition fill every page in this magnificent volume."—Esa Saarinen, Aalto University, Finland

“Rich and poignant . . . Sadness abounds in these reflections, yet Taylor affirms the here and now and reminds readers that as life is a challenge, the ending time of life is a challenge within that challenge, something all will have to negotiate.”—Choice

"[Taylor's] book is a reflection on the end of life through the question of its meaning — and, by extension, the purpose of writing."—Bradley B. Onishi, Los Angeles Review of Books
ISBN: 9780300224399
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
392 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
24 b/w illus.
Speed Limits

Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left

Mark C. Taylor

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