The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes

By Mike Phelps
The Irrationalist cover
The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes

Author: Andrew Pessin
Genre: Historical Fiction, Philosophy
Publisher: Open Books
Pub date: April 23, 2017
pp: 508

Historical fiction can be tricky as it demands that the author accurately captures a particular period while crafting a dramatic story. A compelling murder mystery with the Peace of Westphalia (1648) as a backdrop and whiffs of analytical geometry are a tall order. Andrew Pessin’s novel The Irrationalist succeeds in using these elements to create an engaging story. Pessin, Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College, used René Descartes’ untimely death to uncover the renowned thinker’s motivations and inspirations. The tragedy, the loss, and the epic quality of the intertwining stories that span decades are reminiscent of authors like Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.

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