Steven Poole’s non-fiction choice selects Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy by Alain Badiou for review:
The grizzled French philosopher here collects articles and talks written on the deaths of 14 of his colleagues, from Lacan to Françoise Proust. His modes of tribute are pleasingly various. A sympathetic account of Sartre concentrates on a lesser-known work, the Critique of Dialectical Reason; Louis Althusser is hailed as a heroic nagger at the question of what philosophy is; and Gilles Châtelet’s “love of a night’s partying” is admired as an enactment of his thought.
As these pieces span decades, the tone varies considerably. Badiou will occasionally sound like Private Eye doing Alain de Botton (“I always think of the night; of the night in the sense that it is definitively the order in which daylight gradually becomes unthinkable”); and there is often a touch of self-dramatisation in his tributes to others, but one is usually won over by the author’s evident fondness.”
Read the full review here.