The Polish writer Ryszard Kapuscinski more or less devoted his life to the study of the “other”. As Neil Ascherson points out in the introduction to this series of lectures delivered between 1990 and 2004, just before Kapuscinski died, his travels and meetings with his idea of “other” took him to dangerous places and sometimes into life-threatening situations. But it is all central to his belief that to write about something you have to experience it, a contention that Ascherson readily acknowledges as debatable. Kapuscinski defines the “other” through the ages ending with the Enlightenment, which led to post-colonial and multicultural phases. He finishes with the “other” in the globalised world. His achievement in lucid, informed writing is to bring a lifetime’s experience to a highly theorised concept.
The Other is now available in paperback.