IT IS DIFFICULT TO pick small number of books in a rich year. In my own field two important books came out. Gregory Conti’s Parliament the Mirror of the Nation: Representation, Deliberation, and Democracy in Victorian Britain is a fascinating intellectual history of debates over representation. A timely reminder of the tensions between representation and democracy. Katarina Forrester’s In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy is a deeply stimulating and erudite account of the development of liberal political theory. But it also manifests one particular danger of the present moment: liberalism is being subject to too much condescension of posterity from both the Right but even more from the Left.
A walk through the Sabarmati Ashram bookshop led me to a rediscovery of Vinoba Bhave, the philosopher. Three short works in Hindi, Mahaguha Mein Pravesh, Saamya-Sutra and a commentary on the Koran, are dazzling in their depth, scholarship and a window to the enterprise of self-discovery.
In fiction, two novels seem apt for the Post-Truth Age. Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s The Shape of Ruins is a great mystery but also an introduction to the difficulty of historical truth. And the year ended with a rereading of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. I last read the book as an undergraduate but it still seems so fresh. Darkness at Noon indeed.