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  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241352168
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $49.99

Time of the Magicians

The Great Decade of Philosophy, 1919-1929




A gripping narrative of the intertwined lives of the four philosophers whose ideas reshaped the twentieth century

The year is 1919. Walter Benjamin flees his overbearing father to scrape a living as a jobbing critic. Ludwig Wittgenstein signs away his inheritance to teach schoolchildren in a provincial Austrian village, seeking spiritual clarity. Martin Heidegger renounces his faith and align his fortunes with the phenomenological school of Edmund Husserl. Ernst Cassirer sketches a new schema of human culture at the back of a cramped Berlin tram. The stage is set for a great intellectual drama, which will unfold over the next decade. The lives and thought of this quartet will converge and intertwine as each gains world historical significance, between them remaking philosophy.

Time of the Magicians tells the story of this revolution in Western thought through the remarkable and turbulent lives of its four protagonists, showing philosophy not gifted from on high but worked out in the mess of everyday life, and illuminating their ideas with rare clarity.

  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241352168
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $49.99

Praise for Time of the Magicians

A fascinating tour through the lives and thought of some of the most challenging philosophers of the twentieth century: Benjamin, Cassirer, and those two matching gnomic magi, Wittgenstein and Heidegger. It is a book of riches - full of stories as well as ideas, all brought together with a fine light touch

Sarah Bakewell

Packed with personal stories as well as erudition, this is a book that teaches us both how to live through a time of crisis, and how to think about it - skills we now need once again

Anne Applebaum

Fluently blending biography with intellectual history, Time of the Magicians reveals catastrophe as the mother of modern philosophy. It is hard to imagine a more bracing way to reflect on our own times

Pankaj Mishra

Recalls an age when philosophers reinvented a world in full meltdown - one that needed to be remade down to its very punctuation - and turns famous names into all too human characters

Benjamin Moser

A tour de force. Eilenberger unfolds new paths for philosophy itself

Susan Neiman

A tremendous feat of scholarship, but more pertinently it is also a technical masterpiece, knitting together the four men's love lives, money troubles, ontological anxieties and the wider ferment of the Weimar republic with uncommon dexterity

Oliver Moody, The Times

A group portrait of four brilliant young philosophers in the aftermath of the first world war ... Eilenberger tells it with free-wheeling gusto

Jonathan Rée, Guardian

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