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An exhilarating exploration of natality, a much-needed counterpoint to mortality, drawing on the insights of brilliant writers and thinkers.
Birth is one of the most fraught and polarized issues of our time, at the center of debates on abortion, gender, work, and medicine. But birth is not solely an issue; it is a fundamental part of the human condition, and, alongside death, the most consequential event in human life. Yet it remains dramatically unexplored. Although we have long intellectual traditions of wrestling with mortality, few have ever heard of natality, the term political theorist Hannah Arendt used to describe birth’s active role in our lives. In this ambitious, revelatory book, Jennifer Banks begins with Arendt’s definition of natality as the “miracle that saves the world” to develop an expansive framework for birth’s philosophical, political, spiritual, and aesthetic significance.
Banks focuses on seven renowned western thinkers—Arendt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Sojourner Truth, Adrienne Rich, and Toni Morrison—to reveal a provocative countertradition of birth. She narrates these writers’ own experiences alongside the generative ways they contended with natality in their work. Passionately intelligent and wide-ranging, Natality invites readers to attend to birth as a challenging and life-affirming reminder of our shared humanity and our capacity for creative renewal.
Jennifer Banks is senior executive editor at Yale University Press. Her work has appeared in the Boston Review and Pleiades, among other publications. She lives in Massachusetts.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 05/02/2023 - 12:00am
On Sale: 05/02/2023 - 12:00am
Philosophy / History & Surveys
Biography & Autobiography / Philosophers