The Thing Itself

The Thing Itself

On the Search for Authenticity

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440638381
  • 272 Pages
  • Riverhead Books
  • Adult


A deeply personal literary memoir that explores what it means to live an authentic life in an increasingly detached and self-conscious world.

Incited by the feeling that the essence of the modern world is buried beneath the distractions of hype and melodrama, cultural critic Richard Todd began a personal search for authenticity, that elusive quality we often seek but seldom find. In The Thing Itself, Todd attempts to discover for himself a new way of thinking by asking the simple question: What is true in ourselves and the world around us?

With an exquisite eye for detail and an inquisitive spirit, Todd launches into an involving and elegantly crafted investigation of what makes an authentically lived life. As he focuses on an array of exchanges with people, objects, places, and ideas?from the banal to the emotionally poignant?Todd shows us that there?s a great distance between what we can touch, feel, and see, and what interactions mean in our lives. Mining a rich and multifaceted store of modern philosophy and personal experiences, he inches closer to seeing himself and the world through a clearer set of eyes.

Engaging and readable, The Thing Itself offers unexpected insights into the very human search for meaning in our lives.


“There is a sweet memoir embedded in this book of cultural criticism, into which Mr. Todd has deftly wrangled the whole gang, from Jean Baudrillard to Lionel Trilling.”
-The New York Times

“An arch and eloquent meditation.”
-O, the Oprah magazine

“Dazzling, beautifully crafted…A small masterpiece- and ‘small’ only because of its brevity, not its scope.”
-Chicago Tribune

“Provocative and oddly comforting…Refreshing.”
-The Arizona Republic

“A fully realized, brave, and movingly honest memoir…[Todd] makes a figure in which to contemplate ourselves.”

“A splendid book, brimming with wit and original insights…Most pertinent to the way we live now.”
-Ward Just, author of Forgetfulness