Djerassi's latest project probably works better in theory than in practice: a ""dramatized conversation"" among ""four extraordinary intellectuals of the twentieth century,"" philosopher Walter Benjamin, intellectuals Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Scholem, and composer Arnold Schönberg. Djerassi decided on this group, he says, because they ""belonged to the peculiar subset of German and Austrian bourgeois Jews of the pre-World War II generation... more Berlinish or Viennese than their non-Jewish compatriots"" (not incidentally the same subset to which Djerassi assigns himself). In an attempt to provide further insight into the Jewish struggle with identity and the overlooked parts of these men's private lives, he imagines separate conversations among their wives as well (each an ""accomplished and energetic"" woman). Author, playwright and chemist (who developed the birth control pill) Djerassi (Cantor's Delimma: A Novel, This Man's Pill: Reflections on the 50th Birthday of the Pill) will pique readers' curiosity, but will probably only hold the attention of academics who don't mind a surfeit of esoteric references and philosophical flights of fancy.
Reviewed on: 12/01/2008 Release date: 12/01/2008 Genre: Fiction