Nobility Of Spirit
Nobility of Spirit is a spiritual journey to the source of those values—especially truth, freedom and dignity—that must be sustained in order for civilization to flourish. Riemen explores the tradition from Socrates and Spinoza, to Goethe, Whitman, and Thomas Mann—singular individuals who courageously refused to compromise their ideals, and he engages with them with great insight, intimacy and invention. It is the anti-fascist Mann with whom Riemen feels a particular affinity, and who serves as a beacon to a world free of barbarism. Mann’s 1945 volume, Nobility of Spirit: Sixteen Essays on the Problem of Humanity, inspires the form of Riemen’s inquiry. Indeed, Riemen’s eloquent meditation on “nobility of spirit” begins with an extraordinary encounter with Elisabeth Mann Borghese, guardian of the oceans, and the last surviving daughter of the great author of The Magic Mountain and other masterworks. Riemen’s slim, powerful volume ends with an essay on Leone Ginsberg, an Italian Jewish intellectual murdered by the Nazis, who implores his wife—the novelist Natalia Ginsburg—to “be brave” as he is taken to his death. Ultimately, Riemen calls for all of us to “be brave” as we battle those forces—terror, hate and ignorance—that are conspiring against humanity.
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