I brazenly draw the attention of visitors to this blog to a book just published by Manchester University Press. Brazenly, because the subject of the book is... me; or, at any rate, my work. The book is Thinking towards humanity: Themes from Norman Geras. It is edited by Stephen de Wijze and Eve Garrard and collects 18 essays, following an introduction by the editors. The contributors (in order of their individual essays in the volume) are: Michael Walzer, David McLellan, Nick Cohen, Philip Spencer, Ophelia Benson, Alan Johnson, Lawrence Thomas, Eve Garrard, Damian Counsell, Jon Pike, Stephen de Wijze, David Aaronovitch, Gideon Calder, Shane O'Neill, Hillel Steiner, Shalom Lappin, and Ian Holliday. There's a concluding essay by me in which I respond to all their contributions. I reproduce here its opening paragraphs, which record my gratitude to everyone involved:
To be the subject of a volume of essays of this kind is at once a great honour and a source of some embarrassment. For the honour, and for the thought and work that have gone into the individual essays, I express my warmest thanks at the start. I am most grateful to the two editors, my good friends Steve de Wijze and Eve Garrard, whose idea it was to produce a collection devoted to my work, and who then did what was necessary (including the application of a bit of gentle pressure on me) to bring it to completion. I am grateful, likewise, to all of the contributors for the trouble they have taken in thinking about themes and problems which have interested me at one time or another, or persistently, over the course of more than forty years.
This is where the embarrassment comes in. To see so many of one's thoughts - reasoned out (or at any rate arrived at) during such a long period - returning in the same place to be discussed by considerably more people than the mere one that I am is enough to give anybody pause. Did I think that then? Do I still? And whatever the answer to either question, can I make coherent sense of all the things which these essays offer evidence of my having written over the period? Readers of the volume will see for themselves the generosity of spirit that has animated the contributors in engaging with my work. Yet, generous as may be, they have raised between them critical questions that would take another book again to respond to adequately. I shall not be able to do their essays justice. The best I can aim for is to deal with a small selection of the issues they address.
On the occasion of the book's publication, I should like to say thanks once again to Steve and Eve and the authors of the other essays. For news of a discount offer to normblog readers, watch this space.