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Schopenhauer’s Will

by Jack Matthews

“Jack Matthews’ creative biography explores Schopenhauer’s days and works. Rarely has philosophy been so vital and interesting. Matthews transforms gray ponderings into the red blood of life and white bone of story. A man and his times spring quick from the page. Schopenhauer’s Will is beautifully written. The prose is clear, and the great philosopher’s ideas stretch taut and well–defined as muscles. The book delights and teaches, and as readers turn pages they will so turn through ideas that their lives will be enriched.”

– Sam Pickering (inspiration for John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society)

  • June 16, 2015 publication date
  • Hardcover format
  • 978-0-9858278-8-5ISBN-13
  • 184 pages
  • $29.95 price

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Author Biography

Matthews Jack Matthews published more than 30 books in his long storied life, and received many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974, and a Sherwood Anderson Award. His short stories, essays, poems, and reviews appeared in such periodicals as The Yale Review, The Malahat Review, The Sewanee Review, The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, The National Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Mademoiselle, The Southern Review, Soundings, and The London Review of Books. Jack passed away in November of 2013.


“Mr. Matthews is a master of prose conversation and deadpan charm. He is ironic, cool, and shrewd, and he writes a lucid prose.” – Tim O’Brien on Dubious Persuasions (The New York Times)
“Few contemporary writers can—or want to—compose stories in the narrow tunnel of the interior, the rutted trail of memory between mind and heart, sometimes shutting out other people as well as time and place and usual props. Matthews takes us there, carrying a bright light.” – Art Seidenbaum, The Los Angeles Times
“Jack Matthews in his straightforward language reaches a point at which his facts take on ominous overtones, allow suggestions of horror, despair, threat to enter through the clear, undecorated logic of events . . . His heights are towering and intense.” – Doris Grumbach on Crazy Women (The New York Times)
“Matthews’s always graceful prose finds that precise telling detail. It’s easy to fall in love with such writing.” – Perry Glasser, The North American Review


Then it was that Johanna decided against crying and asked a surprising question: “What is the only thing we possess, after all?”
Sensing a trap, Schopenhauer was suspicious. “What do you mean?”
“It’s our lives!” she cried. “Isn’t my life all that I possess, after all?”
“You could say that, of course.”
“I do say it, Arthur! … because it’s true! It’s true of all of us.”
“So what if it is?”
“Only this: it is a terrible thing to see your life wasted when you know that it’s all you’ll ever have! One’s life is the world, after all! It’s all we’ll ever know of the world, isn’t it?”
“Upon occasion, you do talk like a philosopher, Mother. I believe you’ve been reading Kant on the sly. Not that you’d understand it.”
“I despise philosophy, and you know it!”
“Of course you despise philosophy! How could you help but despise philosophy, since it’s what I’ve dedicated my life to?”
“That’s ridiculous, and you know it!”
“So you left my father alone so that he could suffer in peace. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Can’t you understand that he wasn’t the only one who suffered? I suffered every agony with him! But he would not let me come near! He seemed to think it would reveal a terrible weakness in him if he let me nurse and take care of him as I wished.”
“So you left him alone and went to parties—is that it?”
“What other life did I have? Do you know what it is to yearn for companionship, friendship, society … and yet spend your hours imprisoned in an old house with a man who never speaks except to complain?”
Complain! But he was ill!
“And I tried to help him, but he wouldn’t let me!”
“I doubt that you tried very hard!”
“It’s a terrible thing to see your life drain away into nothing!”
“What about his life?”

Publisher of Fine Editions   |   Geoff Gronlund, Editor