Digest

Digest is available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle editions.  This comprehensive, annotated, illustrated, and fully indexed collection includes all of Quintus Curtius’s important essays from 2016 to January 2020.  Some of the essays have been expanded.  The range of topics is diverse and compelling, and includes history, moral and ethical philosophy, travel and exploration, language, and the wisdom of the Near East. These penetrating and inspiring writings provide a window into a philosophy of life based on a belief in achievement through struggle, the redemptive power of wisdom, the value of moral goodness, and the necessity of direct personal experience.

Each essay stands alone by itself, conveniently allowing the book to be opened and read at any place, and at any time.  The table of contents can be found by clicking on the link below:

table.of.contents.digest

The text is annotated, with illustrations, and has a detailed index for easy reference.  This is a volume that can be read with guidance, profit, and enjoyment for a lifetime.  It contains hundreds of essays grouped into four categories:

Part I:  Thought.  Included are such classic pieces as “The Armor of Virtue,” “The Engrossed,” “The Man of Action Cannot Expect Gratitude from Others,” “The Architect of the Imagination,” and many, many more.  The subject matter and its treatment is of a type not found anywhere else today.

Part II:  The Wisdom of the Near East.  A collection of anecdotes, stories, and maxims of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish philosophers of the medieval period, most of which are either totally unknown or obscure in the West today.  This section of the book has its own introduction.  Locating and presenting this material, the reader can be assured, was no easy feat.

Part III:  Travel and Exploration.  Exploration is an essential component of wisdom, and the pulse of life itself.  This section describes the deeds and lives of daring explorers and travelers, most of whom have been unfairly forgotten today.

Part IV:  History, Language, and Literature.  This section charts the growth and expansion of knowledge, using the lives and achievements of great figures in history to draw timeless lessons for the present age.

This podcast describes the book’s details:

The following excerpt is from the book’s preface, “Author to Reader”:

The essays in this book were originally published at my website Fortress of the Mind (qcurtius.com) between 2016 and January 2020.  Some of them have been expanded. I have here divided them into four general categories:  Moral and Ethical Thought, Wisdom of the Near East, Travel and Exploration, and History, Language, and Literature.

No branch of knowledge is tangential to the curve of wisdom.  While the range of subjects is large, the length of each essay is mercifully short, allowing the reader to peruse these pages as opportunity and interest may permit.  As a vehicle for the transmission of ideas, the essay is a laudable invention; its length stimulates the mind without overwhelming the patience, ensuring that topical points are retained in the memory long after a book’s cover has been closed.  As every numbered essay stands alone as a separate writing, the reader may open the book and begin at any page. The largest number of entries is found in Part I.  “To speak generally,” said Plutarch, “what we are wont to say about the arts and sciences is also true of moral excellence, for to its perfect development three things must meet together, natural ability, theory, and practice…If any of these elements be wanting, excellence must be so far deficient.”[1]

We agree with him.  He understood that those who wished to make progress in moral development needed not only to study theory, but also to apply this theory in grappling with worldly problems.  It is my hope that readers find in these essays some principles that may be deployed in the rigorous palaestra of life.  Our age hungers for answers to the immemorial questions, and senses, in its heart of hearts, that it has been systematically deprived of the wisdom and guidance of the past by a modern culture obsessed with grotesque novelty, smug superficiality, and transient stimulations.  The essays in Part II feature moral wisdom found in selected anecdotes from the literary traditions of the Near East.  Part II also contains its own brief introduction. The content of Parts III and IV is self-explanatory.  Of what has transpired before us, there are always new tales to tell.

The currents of the past flow constantly around us, and we must at times allow ourselves to be carried along by their surges.  No written effort is completed without the assistance of many hands.  Thanks are owed to the patient friends whose encouragement, suggestions, and senses of humor I have valued over the years, especially Zeljko Ivic, James Seehafer, and Dr. Michael Fontaine of Cornell University, to whom this book is respectfully dedicated.  Special thanks are also owed to my parents for a lifetime of unremitting support.  And as this volume has already burst its seams, we need not linger here with additional commentary.  The art of leaving people alone, is an art that is not well-known. Diogenes Laertius tells us that the philosopher Zeno was once faced with a man who continued to speak beyond the point of utility, and who would not listen to cues to stop. The old Stoic told him: “Your ears have slid down and merged with your tongue.”[2]

Quintus Curtius

Overland Park, Kansas

January 2020

 

[1]  Plutarch’s Morals, London: George Bell & Sons (1898), p. 2 (On Education IV).

[2]  Diogenes Laertius VII.21.

 

Below are displayed some of the book’s illustrations, including the frontispiece and dedication pages:

 

 

Frontispiece of a 1645 Latin edition of the astronomical works of Al-Battani, printed in Bologna, Italy.

 

Any questions, comments, or other inquiries may be directed to Fortress of the Mind Publications at qcurtius@gmail.com.