Eros, Magic and the Murder of Professor Culianu

Ted Anton

This highly unusual true-crime book looks at the still-unsolved shooting of University of Chicago Divinity School professor Ioan Culianu in a campus men’s room in 1991. Maybe it wasn’t the biggest killing of the year, but author Anton digs up more than enough muck and delves into areas sufficiently far afield from your normal cops-and-killers stuff to make this well worth a look-see. Culianu was an acclaimed professor of comparative religion doing cutting-edge work in areas as diverse as Renaissance magic, gnosticism and after-death experience. And just to show he wasn’t all work and no play, he harbored a secret ambition to put all those Ph.D.s (he had three!) to work writing some science fiction. But he also was a Romanian exile with an unfortunate penchant for fingering the spades in Romania’s post-Ceauscescu government. Anton builds a strong case for Culianu’s killing as the first political assassination of a professor in the United States. And along the way, he paints a fascinating portrait of Culianu’s life and work spiced with plenty of Romanian political weirdness. JM

Publisher: Northwestern University
Hardback: 292 pages

Sade: My Neighbor

Pierre Klossowski

I was really hoping to learn something fantastic from this book. Nay, even enjoy it. No such luck. Totally incomprehensible linguistic definitions. There’s no respite from the convoluted grammar and impenetrable ramblings. You’ll have to be desperate for one more book to read on de Sade, or in need of someone else’s opinion to crib for an end of term paper, before you get anything practical out of this thing.
The only revealing detail of this whole monolith is that we are repeatedly informed that Monsieur Pierre Klossowski finds it indisputable—and the one and only, totally triumphant key to understanding and appreciating de Sade—that sodomy is the ultimate symbolic and actual social taboo around which all else falls into place. What a sheltered, cerebral life he must have led. Ah me… next! GPO

Publisher: Northwestern University
Paperback: 144 pages