John Wilson

Favorite Books of 2013

Plus the Book of the Year

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Zibaldone. Giacomo Leopardi. Edited by Michael Caesar and Franco D'Intino. Translated from the Italian by Kathleen Baldwin. Are you easily seduced by "notebooks" and miscellanies of all sorts? Are you irresistibly drawn to fantastic and eccentric learning, to vast works (fictional or non-) in which a brilliant, often solitary mind ranges from literature to philosophy, from history to art, while delving into the curious byways of philology? Then Zibaldone (a "hodgepodge," the title tells us—in this case, a massive hodgepodge) belongs at your bedside. Leopardi is best-known for his poetry, but now at last we have an English translation of this fabled work. Heartfelt gratitude to FSG and to everyone who helped to bring this project to fruition.


The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant Encounters with Korean Religions, 1876-1915. Sung-Deuk Oak. "Historiography of early encounters between Protestantism and Korean religious culture should be rewritten from the perspective of cultural exchanges beyond cultural imperialism." Oak has given us a model for doing just that, not only for the Korean case in particular—his immediate subject—and not only for the phenomenal growth of Christianity in Asia more generally and in Africa over the last 150 years but also for church history over 2000 years, where we find—again and again, in wildly different circumstances—the "creative combination of the principle of Christian universality (vertical transcendence) and that of inculturation (horizontal adaptation)."

John Wilson is the editor of Books & Culture.

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