Apples & Oranges
In Praise of Comparisons
By Maarten Asscher
248 pages, $15.95 USD
First US Trade Paper Edition and Ebook
ISBN: 978-1-940423-06-7 (print), 978-1-940423-07-4 (ebook)
A brilliant collection of essays that offer an eloquent justification for comparing apples and oranges
What does it mean when people say “You can’t compare apples and oranges”? Are comparisons across genres inherently invalid, or can they be illuminating? In 22 wide-ranging essays, Dutch author Maarten Asscher maintains that comparisons can be the highest form of argument.
Asscher makes his case with examples drawn from classical to contemporary history, art, and literature: Hamlet in Ithaca and Telemachus in Elsinore, the Mediterranean and the North Sea, writing from a prison cell and writing from a room at home, the “suicide” of Primo Levi and Japanese Kamikaze pilots . . . With graceful erudition and idiosyncratic wit, Asscher demonstrates how the comparative method can provide insight not only into two subjects simultaneously, but also into fundamental issues they may have in common.
The first publication in English by a leading European intellectual.
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Maarten Asscher is a veteran book publisher and a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including an aquatic history of the Netherlands. He is currently the director of the Athenaeum Bookshop in Amsterdam.