Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God

Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God

Will Durant

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 1476771553

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Praised as a “revelatory” book by The Wall Street Journal, this is the last and most personal work of Pulitzer Prize–winning author and historian Will Durant, discovered thirty-two years after his death.

The culmination of Will Durant’s sixty-plus years spent researching the philosophies, religions, arts, sciences, and civilizations from across the world, Fallen Leaves is the distilled wisdom of one of the world’s greatest minds, a man with a renowned talent for rendering the insights of the past accessible. Over the course of Durant’s career he received numerous letters from “curious readers who have challenged me to speak my mind on the timeless questions of human life and fate.” With Fallen Leaves, his final book, he at last accepted their challenge.

In twenty-two short chapters, Durant addresses everything from youth and old age to religion, morals, sex, war, politics, and art. Fallen Leaves is “a thought-provoking array of opinions” (Publishers Weekly), offering elegant prose, deep insights, and Durant’s revealing conclusions about the perennial problems and greatest joys we face as a species. In Durant’s singular voice, here is a message of insight for everyone who has ever sought meaning in life or the counsel of a learned friend while navigating life’s journey.

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fragmentation of life that it implies, and all the psychological and economic disturbance it involves for the children—often brings more problems than it solves. Better to fight out the battle on the original field than run from one duel and surface to another. In the first case there is a reasonable chance that a compromise will be found, and that years of association, responsibility, and care will merge the combatants into a quiet but lasting love. Ariel and I have had many quarrels, but we

that I have often been aroused by the beauty of a woman without desiring her in any physical sense or degree; according to me my excitement was purely esthetic. Perhaps I deceive myself, and I will take no oath as to the lusts hiding in my “unconscious” or in my blood. But I insist that time and again I have longed to approach a woman timidly and thank her for being such a joy to behold, and that in this longing I felt no ambition to possess her, or even to touch her hand. I am abnormally

make an objective definition impossible except in the broadest biological terms. A woman with expansive buttocks may seem beautiful to a Hottentot, or merely appetizing to a starving Turk (on the dietary advantages of steatopygy in a siege, consult Voltaire’s Candide). One factor, however, is practically universal: most of the higher animals, and all tries of mankind, agree in finding beauty in the opposite sex. The esthetic sense is probably a derivative of sexual desire, display, and selection,

man-made machine was sending us pictures taken on the surface of the moon; or that a horse race in Kentucky could be seen as soon, as clearly, and as colorfully in California and Maine as by the spectators on the spot. Verily we live in another age of miracles, and we behold an astonishing new breed of men. But something of the skepticism that injured my religious faith has overflowed into timid doubts of science. I distrust the astronomers when they calculate the distance of the fixed stars,

good citizen. I would extend to the city and the nation the principles of the family; I would ask such persistent moral instruction as would help the individual to see his neighbor as in some degree his brother, and his community as in some degree his family, and to apply to them, in proportion to his development and his strength, those principles of mutual aid which the family plants in the soil as the first necessity of social existence and the highest goal of social organization. I would

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