Wilson's Bookmarks

Brief Reviews of 'The Age of Doubt,' 'Dilemmas and Connections,' and 'The Troubled Man.'

This is a very bad book, but its badness is instructive; hence, worth pausing over. One finds here untenable assumptions and tired habits of thought that inform many more accomplished works. The "age" in question is the Victorian era. It could be called an "Age of Faith," and that would be less misleading than the cliche of Lane's title, though not satisfactory either. On the very last page of the book, we hear about "the rise of religious extremism" today (really—in comparison to the 19th century?). Our salvation, you see, lies in doubt.

Dilemmas and Connections Selected Essays
Charles Taylor (Harvard University Press)


A number of these 16 pieces have been previously published, but their venues are far-flung. Readers of Taylor's Sources of the Self and A Secular Age won't need persuading to acquire this volume by the wide-ranging philosopher. In particular, they will want to look at the last section, a cluster of eight essays entitled "Themes from A Secular Age." There are also pieces on various subjects, such as Iris Murdoch (in her role as a moral philosopher rather than as a novelist) and the poet Paul Celan.

The Troubled Man A Kurt Wallander Novel
Henning Mankell (Knopf)


The conclusion of a long-running series, whether clearly resolved or open-ended, is always unsettling, reminding us of the certain fate of everything and everyone we love. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem, he imagined a climactic struggle, on the edge of Reichenbach Falls, between Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The nemesis that stalks Mankell's Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander is even more insidious than Moriarty. And alas, in this powerful last installment, there are no signs of hope for ...

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