Only a Voice

Only a Voice:Essays

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In Only a Voice, George Scialabba examines the chasm between modernity's promise of progress and the sobering reality of our present day through studies of the most influential public intellectuals of our time. In Scialabba's hands, literary criticism becomes a powerful tool for expressing political passion and demonstrating the generative power of argument and an inquisitive mind. Drawing together a diverse group of thinkers, artists, activists, and philosophers-including Edward Said, D. H. Lawrence, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ellen Willis, and Noam Chomsky-Scialabba tours western intellectual history to find that no matter the stakes, critical thought remains a necessary precondition for politics.

Every writer, Scialabba writes, faces the choice of whether "to tilt at the state and capital or ignore them" - and the world now is too dire not to choose the former.


  • This bracing compendium by essayist Scialabba (How to Be Depressed) brings together meditations on novelist Wendell Berry, Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich, Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and other major figures of the 'antimodernist left,'....The erudite sketches of iconoclastic thinkers highlight the heterogeneity of leftist thought, and Scialabba has a knack for teasing out the provocative implications of his subjects' ideas. This stimulates.

    Publishers Weekly
  • I am one of many readers who stay on the lookout for George Scialabba's byline. His reviews and essays are models of moral inquiry. He cuts to the core of the ethical and political dilemmas he discusses. Scialabba reads very widely and very carefully; he is as illuminating about Nietzsche and Ortega as about Orwell and Trilling.

    Richard Rorty, author of Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism
  • George Scialabba is one of a handful of public intellectuals who are keeping the critical spirit alive in a time of stupefying complacency. His essays are unfailingly fresh, provocative, and pleasurable.

    Jackson Lears, author of Rebirth of a Nation