Steven Nadler

 

On his book A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Modern Age

Cover Interview of October 21, 2011

A close-up

The way I have conceived this book, I would hope the browsing reader will open up to page one and immediately be taken by the story.

The opening pages put the reader in seventeenth-century Amsterdam and in the middle of proceedings by religious authorities to ban this “book forged in hell.”  I intentionally start in a very intimate way with the controversy and uproar occasioned by the book, focusing on a couple of individuals who were involved in trying to put an end to the “pestilential publication”; I figured this personal approach was a good way to “hook” attention.  From this initial episode, the story then moves back to the origins of the Treatise, the basic ideas of the work, the circumstances of its publication, and finally to scandal it caused.