After the exceptional success of its 2016 edition, TIM press published the second edition of The University of Life by essayist and cultural philosopher Rob Riemen.

Rob Riemen, founder and director of the Nexus Institute and chief editor of the Nexus magazine, talked for the book The university of Life with nineteen carefully chosen friends around the world. These scientists, philosophers, musicians, writers, publishers and one trade unionist, are the people who with abilities but also with their intellectual, scientific, political or artistic talents have gained worldwide fame. All have come a long and difficult way of life, full of ups and downs, and are able to answer the central question in all conversations in this book, what has life taught you?

In every one of these conversations, the point of departure is the role of the father. Whether he was a famous composer, such as Nuria Schoenberg Nono’s father Arnold, a magnificently powerful and wealthy businessman, such as the father of librarian Ismail Serageldin, an imaginative, yet not too successful trader, such as historian Simon Schama’s father, a resistance hero who married into the foremost Italian intellectual family, such as Benedetta Craveri’s, or a king, as was the case of Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, the role and impact of the father turns out to be central to all of these lives. The University of Life ends with a conversation between Rob Riemen and his own father, Toon Riemen, the oldest contributor, who in his time was a passionate union leader.

As the life stories of these unique individuals unfold, a pattern emerges: these are all autodidacts, whose lives have been governed by their passions and who have never stopped working and reflecting on those things that they have found to be of importance. Baroque musician Jordi Savall, conductor Bernard Haitink and pianists David Dubal and Russell Sherman talk about the life force that is music; publishers Peter Mayer, Andreas Landshoff and the late André Schiffrin speak of the inspiration literature can give us – to which Frido Mann also testifies, after finally having followed in his grandfather Thomas Mann’s footsteps by becoming a writer. Scientist Antonio Damasio describes the power of curiosity; art historian Philippe de Montebello that of beauty. Philosopher Avishai Margalit, journalist Todd Gitlin and novelist and lawyer Louis Begley speak of the impact of ideologies and the force of history itself. Together, their testimonies reveal how our passions, convictions and choices guide us down the rocky road of life.

Insights, experiences and memories that we get from Riemen`s interlocutors are actually a kind of walk through the European and world history of the twentieth century, a time when they grew up, studied, climbed the social ladder and became famous. The stories of these nineteen passengers of life, full of melancholy, humor, comfort and hope, paint their unforgettable portraits and transmit to us their rich life experiences. This unique group of people shared with us their wisdom gained in the university of life.

Today, when everything is pre-programmed and when the imagination and creativity have so little space, a world so strongly dominated by the worship of youth and eternal staying young, information and technology, nineteen life stories that Riemen recorded are a true ode to age, experience, wisdom and love for life and others.

  • ISBN: 978-953-8075-41-4
  • Dimensions: 150x240 mm
  • Number of pages: 192
  • Cover: paperback
  • Year of the edition: 2018
  • Original title: De universiteit van het leven
  • Original language: Dutch
  • Translation: Snježana Cimić