What do we think about when we think about football? Football is about so many things: memory, history, place, social class, gender (especially masculinity, but increasingly femininity too), family identity, tribal identity, national identity, the nature of groups. It is essentially collaborative, even socialist, yet it exists in a sump of greed, corruption, capitalism and autocracy.
Philosopher Simon Critchley attempts to make sense of it all, and to establish a system of aesthetics - even poetics - to show what is beautiful in the beautiful game. He explores, too, how the experience of watching football opens a particular dimension in time; how its magic wards off oblivion; how its dramas play out national identity and non-identity; how we spectators, watching football with tragic pensiveness, participate in the play. And of course, as a football fan, he writes about his heroes and villains: about Zidane and Cruyff, Clough and Revie, Shankly and Klopp.
About the author
Simon Critchley has published books on a wide expanse of ethical and philosophical subjects, including the bestselling The Book of Dead Philosophers, his cult novel Memory Theatre and his memoir-analysis of David Bowie - On Bowie (for Serpents Tail). He is Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York, and series moderator of 'The Stone', a philosophy column in The New York Times. He comes from a Liverpool family and watches his team, devotedly, each weekend, 3306 miles away from Anfield.
A quick and agile book: a kind of metaphysic of the football match, done by the Messi of modern philosophy
- Shahidha Bari, Times Higher Education
Simon Critchley is a figure of quite startling brilliance, and I can never guess what he'll do next, only that it is sure to sustain and nourish my appetite for his voice.
- Jonathan Lethem
Simon Critchley beguiles as he illuminates.
- David Mitchell
A beautiful book about the beautiful game ... the World Cup is coming - fans should start reading.
- John Kaag, author of American Philosophy: A Love Story