26 May 2016
Believe it or not
The Radio 3 Sunday Feature slot is a consistently high-class affair, and Michael Goldfarb’s elegant résumé of the career of the seventeenth-century philosopher Benedict Spinoza (22 May) was a treat.
Both an exposition and a travelogue, Goldfarb not only hobnobbed with academe’s Spinoza experts but trekked round his hero’s haunts in Amsterdam and at one point stopped off at the factory where the great man pursued his day job grinding microscope lenses.
All this gave a bright sheen of immediacy to the travails of an “emissary from Satan” who was excommunicated from the local Jewish community at the age of 23 for suggesting that Scripture might not have been the literal word of God and acquired an international reputation before he had so much as put a word on paper.
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