NYRB Classics 2016
New Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network April 7, 2017 Robert Diab
Benjamin Fondane, a Franco-Romanian writer and contributor to the development of existential philosophy in the 1930s and 40s, is in the process of being rediscovered. His work has gained a new relevance in the contemporary period due in part to the way it anticipates some of the core themes and interests of critical theory, including the limits of rationality and subjectivity, and ideas about the ineffable and the impossible.
Until recently, few of Fondane’s writings, aside from his poetry, had been translated into English, despite a long-standing recognition of their importance to philosophical debates in the period, including by Fondane’s contemporaries, such as Lev Shestov and Albert Camus. A new collection entitled Existential Monday: Philosophical Essays edited and translated by Bruce Baugh and published by the New York Review of Books in 2016, aims to rectify this.
Professor Baugh, who teaches Philosophy at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, has written extensively on existential thought and continental philosophy, and is the author of French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism (Routledge, 2003). Professor Baugh’s work on Fondane will be of interest to a wide variety of readers seeking a better understanding of a thinker whose work invites consideration alongside his better known contemporaries Walter Benjamin and the early Levinas, among others.