cover image Is God Happy? Selected Essays

Is God Happy? Selected Essays

Leszek Kolakowski. Basic, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-465-08099-1

The word “mordant” may have been invented to describe a writer such as the late Kolakowski (1927–2009), public intellectual, brilliant stylist, and prolific author. This selection of essays not only offers new translations but also spans half a century of the Polish author’s work, illustrating his distinctive voice and intellectual preoccupations. The essays in the book are organized loosely into thematic areas—socialism and other political topics; religion, God, and evil; and modernity and the past—but Kolakowski brought to his subjects a mind that sees connections. He was a philosopher engaged with political questions, fiercely anticommunist, and profoundly marked by the moral and political traumas of, first, Nazi and then Soviet-initiated Communist domination of his homeland. Kolakowski knew history and the history of his chosen discipline, philosophy, and it informed his arguments with God and everybody else, conducted in bitingly ironic fashion. He deserves greater appreciation for the inimitable way he articulated the great moral questions that haunted European intellectuals after midcentury and before postmodernism disengaged the intelligentsia. (Feb. 5)