Ishmael

An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Paperback, 263 pages

English language

Published April 30, 1995 by Bantam.

ISBN:
978-0-553-37540-4
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Goodreads:
227265

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4 stars (56 reviews)

Ishmael is a 1992 philosophical novel by Daniel Quinn. The novel examines the hidden cultural biases driving modern civilization and explores themes of ethics, sustainability, and global catastrophe. Largely framed as a Socratic conversation between two characters, Ishmael aims to expose that several widely accepted assumptions of modern society, such as human supremacy, are actually cultural myths that produce catastrophic consequences for humankind and the environment. The novel was awarded the $500,000 Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award in 1991, a year before its formal publication.Ishmael is part of a loose trilogy that includes a 1996 spiritual sequel, The Story of B, and a 1997 "sidequel," My Ishmael. Quinn also details how he arrived at the ideas behind Ishmael in his 1994 autobiography, Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest. Yet another related book is Quinn's 1999 short treatise, Beyond Civilization.

12 editions

Eyeopening

5 stars

Wow... I mean, it's essentially an essay surrounded by quotation marks and the words "Ishmael said", but oh, what an essay!

Really forces you to confront some difficult and rewarding to answer questions about culture and civilized society.

"Must read" for anyone dabbling in anarchist or leftist theory, but probably quite enjoyable for folx not doing so.

Excellent book

5 stars

Best book you'll ever read about a man and a gorilla having a series of borderline telepathic conversations about the nature of man as an animal.

It views human behavior through the lens of animal behavior as observed in nature, and it makes a lot of sense. It makes some of our worse traits like a capacity for war and murder seem reasonable if not necessarily excusable.

Review of 'Ishmael' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

During these times of rampant conspiracies, irrational government, vacuous leadership, and societal degradation, this book rings truer today than when it was first penned. Daniel Quinn's recently updated 1992 philosophical novel continues to speak both urgently and succinctly for our planet and species. Perhaps, we will heed the call.

Review of 'Ishmael' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

One of the more interesting reads lately. I have a nagging feeling I was lied to - yet I cannot figure out whether it was the book or the world all these years. If nothing else, it certainly got me thinking and that in itself is a great feeling.

The fact we are destroying the world is not lost on me. The fact this is getting worse and worse is not either. Mother Culture is telling us to keep destroying ourselves with the hope of greener pastures and technological fixes just around the current corner. Yet the more we try get ahead in the game of life - the more dead we are becoming. More detached from the community of life all around us. Are we really any happier than we would have been in a cave? Any less stressed about tomorrow? Maybe it’s the price of enacting a story …

Review of 'Ishmael' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is a book that sets out to save the world. It asks that I reject my human-chauvinist brainwashing. What does it mean to give such a book 3 stars--to say "It was good." Is it like damning with faint praise?

If the book was an adventure, let me admit I had one. It was a brief vacation from my normal human ways to which I have now sort of returned. It's not that I reject the book's argument. I found it amusing (more faint praise) despite the didactic nature of its presentation.

And, yes, something must be done to fix things, and soon. But a political movement that refuses to try and treat diseases because death is part of the nature of things seems impractical to me. I can't see it catching on. And if it doesn't catch on, the world won't be saved in this way.

Maybe it's …

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Subjects

  • Modern fiction
  • Fiction - General
  • Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Literary
  • Fiction / General
  • Fantasy - General
  • Psychological