A faithful companion [Book Review]

We can at last release our breath: the long awaited Russell volume in the popular Cambridge Companion series has finally arrived. It contains fifteen chapters written by well known Russell scholars dealing with a wide array of Russelliana, along with a quite extensive introductory essay by the volume editor. It is not difficult to see what took so long. Russell’s corpus, even considering only his philosophical writings, outstrips in both breadth and volume almost all the other figures covered in the Cambridge Companion series. A further complication in Russell’s case is his characteristic habit of so frequently changing his mind even about fundamental issues. Dealing with such a vast amount of information must have required a tremendous amount of sustained collaboration. Obviously, the volume could not cover everything; but the editor and authors have done a tremendous job selectively choosing topics and themes within Russell’s philosophical work to focus on. While falling short of perfection, the result is a collection of pieces that together provide the sort of sophisticated introduction to a complex philosopher that is able to make his work accessible to relative beginners without disguising the subtlety, complexity and still controversial nature of his views.
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