Simon Critchley: TOP TEN BOOKS

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Courtesy of Noah Kalina

Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, Critchley writes primarily on the history of philosophy, political theory, religion, ethics, and aesthetics, especially literature and theatre. His many books include Faith of the Faithless, On Humor, and Bowie, an excursion through the songs of David Bowie.

Below are Simon Critchley’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.



James Joyce
“Ineluctable modality of the visible…signatures of all things I am here to read.” For me, since reading it many decades ago, Ulysses is and remains THE book.
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William Shakespeare
At the centre of Ulysses is a debate about Hamlet, naturally. This play is without peer and simply inexhaustible. I never tire of it.
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Franz Kafka
The paradox of this parable is that what it means to be human is only revealed by being transformed into monstrous vermin. This is also one of the funniest books I know.
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The Palm at the End of the Mind

Wallace Stevens
I read a lot of poetry and have spent many years trying to get beyond Stevens and my obsession with his late verse in particular. But I can’t.
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The Art of Memory

Frances Yates
I always think that people who say that books change their lives don’t read much. But this book changed mine. A book for initiates of strange ceremonies.
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Tom McCarthy
Working with Tom over the years has been one of the great pleasures of my life. This is a perfect novel: completely conceptually rigorous and a great story.
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Being and Time

Martin Heidegger
Written in the ugliest, baroque German, this book hold great treasures for those prepared to take their time with it.
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Totality and Infinity

Emmanuel Levinas
The antidote to Heidegger. this book is a luscious, strange growth, more Bildungsroman than philosophical treatise. Spend time with it. It is true.
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Time Lived, Without Its Flow

Denise Riley
I recently lost my mother and have been reading a huge amount about grief, bereavement and mourning. This is the only thing I have read that gets close to the experience of loss and the way in which it suspends our entire, usual understanding of time. A wonderful piece of work from the English poet.
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The Great Gatsby

F.Scott Fitzgerald
I am not sure if I believe in “the green light,” like Gatsby, but I always feel an elegiac intimacy with New York and the dark fields of the republic when I reread it.
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