A Conversation with Michael Ignatieff, Author, ‘On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times’

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Join me and Michael Ignatieff as we discuss his new book, On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times. On Consolation offers a two thousand year look at how humankind struggled with and endeavored to find consolation in its darkest hours. In a series of essays from the books of Job and Psalms through Dante and Albert Camus concluding with Dr. Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, Professor Ignatieff elaborates on how men and women in extremity sought to recover hope and resilience.

Professor Ignatieff, the author of nearly 20 books including a Booker award finalist, is the former head of Canada’s Liberal Party, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School, and President of Central European University in Vienna, Austria where currently he is a professor.

Guest

Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff is the author of Isaiah Berlin and The Warrior’s Honor, as well as over fifteen other acclaimed books, including a memoir, The Russian Album, and the Booker finalist novel Scar Tissue. He writes regularly for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. Former head of Canada’s Liberal Party, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and president of Central European University, he is currently a professor at CEU in Vienna.

On Consolation

When we lose someone we love, when we suffer loss or defeat, when catastrophe strikes—war, famine, pandemic—we go in search of consolation. Once the province of priests and philosophers, the language of consolation has largely vanished from our modern vocabulary, and the places where it was offered, houses of religion, are often empty. Rejecting the solace of ancient religious texts, humanity since the sixteenth century has increasingly placed its faith in science, ideology, and the therapeutic.

How do we console each other and ourselves in an age of unbelief? In a series of portraits of writers, artists and musicians searching for consolation—from the books of Job and Psalms to Albert Camus, Anna Akhmatova, and Primo Levi—writer and historian Michael Ignatieff shows how men and women in extremity have looked to each other across time to recover hope and resilience. Recreating the moments when great figures found the courage to confront their fate and the determination to continue unafraid, On Consolation takes those stories into the present, contending that we can revive these traditions of consolation to meet the anguish and uncertainties of the twenty-first century.

Host

Michael Zeldin

Michael Zeldin is a well-known and highly-regarded TV and radio analyst/commentator.

He has covered many high-profile matters, including the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the Gore v. Bush court challenges, Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump impeachment proceedings.

In 2019, Michael was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he taught a study group on Independent Investigations of Presidents.

Previously, Michael was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as Deputy Independent/ Independent Counsel, investigating allegations of tampering with presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s passport files, and as Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, October Surprise Task Force, investigating the handling of the American hostage situation in Iran.

Michael is a prolific writer and has published Op-ed pieces for CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post.