Books

Books : reviews

Bernard Suits.
The Grasshopper: games, life, and utopia: 3rd edn.
Broadview Press. 2014

In the mid-twentieth century, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. “Nonsense,” said the sensible Bernard Suits: “playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop’s Grasshopper, a “shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology,” Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia.

This new edition of The Grasshopper includes illustrations from Frank Newfeld created for the book’s original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka, and a new appendix on the meaning of ‘play.’