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Imperfect Garden


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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Hidden Pact 1 CHAPTER 1: The Interplay of Four Families 9 CHAPTER 2: The Declaration of Autonomy 47 CHAPTER 3: Interdependence 80 CHAPTER 4: Living Alone 94 CHAPTER 5: The Ways of Love 115 CHAPTER 6: The Individual : Plurality and Universality 139 CHAPTER 7: The Choice of Values 160 CHAPTER 8: A Morality Made for Humanity 178 CHAPTER 9: The Need for Enthusiasm 207 Epilogue: The Humanist Wager 226 Bibliography 239 Index 24 7

About the Author

Tzvetan Todorov is Research Director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and the author of many books, including The Conquest of America, On Human Diversity, The Morals of History, Facing the Extreme, and The Fragility of Goodness (Princeton). He writes regularly for the New Republic, Salmagundi, and other publications.


"In Todorov's own terms, he has rejected both his own scientist past and the individualist alternative in order to join the humanists; and it is one of the great merits of this book, readably translated by Carol Casman, that it poses questions of choice and freedom, the rights and responsibilities of the individual at a moment when the French electorate ponders the meaning of its humanist traditions and the strength or weakness of its liberal democracy. The imperfect garden is a frustrating place to live, Todorov admits, but it shouldn't be abandoned to the snakes in the grass."--Douglas Smith, Irish Times "How, Todorov asks, can thinkers from centuries ago speak to our concerns? In addressing this difficult, urgent, and quintessentially humanist question, Todorov's The Imperfect Garden exemplifies the rich legacy it so eloquently describes."--Carol E. Quillen, The American Scholar "It is comforting to read an intelligent defence of liberal humanism. Like the authors he focuses on, Todorov is tolerant, understanding and wise."--English Showalter, The Observer "It is comforting to read an intelligent defense of liberal humanism. Like the authors he focuses on, Todorov is tolerant, understanding and wise."--English Showalter, The Guardian "Tzvetan Todorov's book on the humanist legacy is written very much in the spirit of Montaigne... It offers a wide-ranging meditation on the open-endedness of human life, on the freedom and the sociability that are its only givens, and on the minimal ethic of autonomy and responsibility to others that they ought to inspire. Yet the book is by no means a hymn to man. Todorov harbors no illusions about the mix of good and bad that enters into the fabric of all that is human... [He] ... speaks throughout in his own voice, with rare breadth of sympathy and with a fine eye for the complexities of human experience."--Charles Larmore, The New Republic

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