Waterfield, Robin 1952–
Waterfield, Robin 1952–
(Robin Anthony Herschel Waterfield)
Born 1952. Education: Manchester University, graduated, 1974; research student at King's College, Cambridge, 1974-78.
Penguin Books, London, England, copy editor and commissioning editor c. 1982-84, 1988-91, consultant, 1991-99; freelance writer and editor, 1991—; has also taught at Newcastle College, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and St. Andrews. Visiting lecturer, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.
(Editor and author of introduction) Jacob Boehme: Essential Readings, Crucible (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England), 1989.
Before ‘Eureka": The Presocratics and Their Science, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
(Editor) The Voice of Kahlil Gibran: An Anthology, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1995.
(Editor) The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Classic Stories in Verse, Puffin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1996.
Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis, Brunner-Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.
Athens: A History, from Ancient Ideal to Modern City, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to books, including The Criterion of Truth: Essays Written in Honour of George Kerferd, edited by Pamela Huby and Gordon Neal, Liverpool University Press, 1989; and The Passionate Intellect: Essays on the Transformation of Classical Traditions Presented to Professor I.G. Kidd, edited by Lewis Ayres, Transaction Publishers, 1995. Contributor to periodicals, including Liverpool Classical Monthly, Phronesis, Maia, Apeiron, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Classical Quarterly, Gnosis, Culture and Cosmos, Polis, History Today, and Philosophers' magazine.
(Author of text) Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone Present Rebel Planet, illustrated by Gary Mayes, Puffin (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1985.
Masks of Mayhem (game book), Puffin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1986.
Phantoms of Fear (game book), Puffin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1986.
(With Wilfred Davies) The Money Spider, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1988.
(With Wilfred Davies) The Water Spider, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1988.
Deathmoor (game book), Puffin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1994.
Waterfield's books have been published in several languages, including Danish, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and Portuguese.
(And author of introduction) Plato, Philebus, (New York, NY), Penguin Books, 1982.
(And author of essay) Theaetetus, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1987.
The Theology of Arithmetic: On the Mystical, Mathematical and Cosmological Symbolism of the First Ten Numbers (attributed to Iamblichus), foreword by Keith Critchlow, Phanes Press (Grand Rapids, MI), 1988.
(With Hugh Tredennick; and author of introduction and notes) Xenophon, Conversations of Socrates, Penguin (New York, NY), 1990.
Plato, Republic, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1993.
(And author of introduction and notes) Plato, Gorgias, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Epicurus, Letter on Happiness, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Plato, Symposium, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(And editor, with Julia Annas) Plato, Statesman, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Aristotle, Physics, introduction and notes by David Bostock, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Hiero the Tyrant and Other Treatises, introductions and notes by Paul Cartledge, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Plutarch, Greek Lives: A Selection of Nine Greek Lives, introductions and notes by Philip A. Stadter, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Herodotus, The Histories, introduction and notes by Carolyn Dewald, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Plutarch, Roman Lives: A Selection of Eight Roman Lives, introductions and notes by Philip A. Stadter, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(And author of commentary) The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Euripides, Ion; Orestes; Phoenician Women; Suppliant Women, introduction by Edith Hall, notes by James Morwood, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(And author of introduction and notes) Phaedrus, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Euripides, Alcestis, Heracles, Children of Heracles, Cyclops, introduction by Edith Hall, notes by James Morwood, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
The Expedition of Cyrus, introduction and notes by Tim Rood, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
(And editor) Streams of Grace: A New Selection from the Letters of the Abbé De Tourville with a Biographical Introduction, Continuum (New York, NY), 2005.
(And author of introduction and notes) Plato, Meno and Other Dialogues, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Robin Waterfield has written academic articles, nonfiction books, and children's fiction, including children's game books such as Masks of Mayhem and Phantoms of Fear. He is best known, however, as a Greek scholar who has translated numerous Greek philosophical texts. He has also written nonfiction books about hypnotism and Athens, as well as a biography of the writer Kahlil Gibran.
Waterfield explores the principles that paved the way to modern scientific theories in his 1989 book Before ‘Eureka": The Presocratics and Their Science. The author points out that the Presocratics were not scientists as they are thought of in the modern world. Rather, according to Waterfield, they were pioneers of a philosophy of science. Among the Presocratics that the author profiles are Democritus, Heraclitus, and Empedocles.
In Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, Waterfield presents a biography of the writer, poet, and artist who was born in Lebanon (then part of the Syrian Province of the Ottoman Empire) and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was still a boy. Among Gibran's most famous writings is his book The Prophet, which became a staple of the counterculture movement in the 1960s and has remained popular with the New Age movement. More than nine million copies of The Prophet have been sold in the United States alone.
"In Prophet, Waterfield struggles to present the life and career without permitting his readers to think that he may himself have fallen under the swami's spell,’ wrote Liesl Schillinger in the New York Times Book Review. Schillinger wrote in the same review that ‘the unforgiving portrait he paints here reveals a narcissistic pretender who did not care about his family and who may have cruelly manipulated his chief patroness.’ Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, pointed out that, despite his notoriety as a sage, Gibran was a womanizer and died in 1931 from cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism. Olson noted: ‘Such contradictions make Waterfield's scrupulous biography keenly absorbing."
Waterfield traces the history of hypnosis in his book Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis, which was called a ‘well-researched book’ by Financial Times contributor George Lucas. Waterfield looks at hypnosis from a scientific viewpoint and investigates the myths and issues that have surrounded it. In the process, he examines the debate that has been associated with hypnosis for more than two hundred years, beginning when Franz Anton Mesmer claimed to be able to use early forms of hypnotism to cure headaches, toothaches, and even blindness, among many other maladies. Lucas observed that the author's ‘portrayal of conflict between hypnotism's sceptics and its enthusiasts—both honest and crooked—is a tale of idealistic if frequently naive struggle against the flinty opposition of the medical establishment of the day."
In addition to chronicling the early uses of and debates about hypnotism, Waterfield explores its established uses to provide pain relief associated with cancer, burns, and childbirth, as well as its application for treating tinnitus and the nausea resulting from chemotherapy. ‘The book is an attempt to dismantle the medical profession's ‘deep-rooted prejudices’ against hypnosis in an even handed way, using a meticulously researched chronological account of the subject,’ wrote Raj Persaud in the British Medical Journal. In Hidden Depths, the author also delves into the reputation that some of the practitioners of hypnosis have had concerning alleged psychic powers. In addition, he explores its uses for regression, memory recovery, and various New Age practices, such as recalling past lives. ‘Hypnosis has a colourful history and Waterfield tells a remarkable tale,’ according to Sue Kinder in the Lancet.
Athens: A History, from Ancient Ideal to Modern City is a history of the noted Greek city, from its ancient days on through the political upheavals that occurred in the nineteenth century. The author discusses the legend that the city was cofounded by Theseus, killer of the Minotaur, a Greek mythical creature that was part man and part bull, and that it was Theseus who first promoted democracy there. He also details the fifth century B.C.E. effort of Pericles to establish democracy in the city and its resulting thirty-years of glory when Athens was a center for the arts, philosophy, and religion. Waterfield goes on to detail the city's fall and eventual domination by a succession of rulers from Persia, Turkey, and Rome. In addition, Waterfield profiles many of the people who played a major role in the city's history. ‘He provides vivid portraits of … Pericles, Demosthenes, Lord Elgin, and Lord Byron … as well as less familiar figures, such as the mournful, scholarly archbishop Michael of Chonae, who labored in the 12th century to restore the Parthenon,’ reported Michael Poliakoff in the Wilson Quarterly. The author, furthermore, discusses Athens' role in the ancient Olympics. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book a ‘fast-paced history.’ Brendan Driscoll asserted in Booklist that the author's ‘tour of daily life in classical Athens is excellent."
In his 2006 book Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia, and the End of the Golden Age, Waterfield provides a history of a military expedition that took place in 401 B.C.E. Based on the writings of Xenophon, the author takes the first-ever eyewitness account of a western military campaign to describe how a Persian prince named Cyrus the Younger tried to overthrow his brother to become ruler of the Persian empire with the help of Greek mercenaries. Cyrus, however, was killed, and the Greek army had to make an epic retreat over 1,708 miles. Writing in the Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney concluded that the author has created ‘a fine example of popular classical history."
Waterfield has also translated numerous Greek philosophical texts, including Plato's Republic and Symposium and Aristotle's Physics. Writing in the New Statesman & Society, Stephen Howe felt that Waterfield's ‘version of Plato is immensely pleasing’ in some ways. Howe added: ‘It's vigorous and dramatic, mercifully free from the tedious kind of dated pseudo-colloquialism that, in some translations, makes Socrates and Glaucon sound as though they were ruminating over port in the Senior Common Room."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1998, Ray Olson, review of Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, p. 561; March 1, 2004, Brendan Driscoll, review of Athens: A History, from Ancient Ideal to Modern City, p. 1125.
British Medical Journal, July 6, 2002, Raj Persaud, review of Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis, p. 50.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December, 2004, E.N. Borza, review of Athens, p. 729.
Contemporary Review, November, 2004, review of Athens, p. 317.
Financial Times, April 27, 2002, George Lucas, ‘When I Snap My Fingers, You Will Phone the Box Office: Scandal Has Dogged the Mesmerist's Art, Explains George Lucas,’ p. 5; October 21, 2006, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, review of Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia, and the End of the Golden Age, p. 33.
Greece & Rome, April, 1996, Richard Wallace, reviews of Gorgias and Statesman, p. 103.
Isis, September, 1991, Liba Taub, review of Before ‘Eureka": The Presocratics and Their Science, p. 553.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of Athens, p. 125.
Lancet, December 14, 2002, Sue Kinder, ‘A Mesmerising Tale,’ review of Hidden Depths, p. 1992.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Leo Kritz, review of Prophet, p. 91.
Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2003, review of Hidden Depths, p. 6.
Mnemosyne, April, 2001, Richard J. Evans, review of Greek Lives: A Selection of Nine Greek Lives, p. 231.
New Statesman & Society, August 20, 1993, Stephen Howe, review of Republic, p. 37.
New York Times Book Review, December 13, 1998, Liesl Schillinger, ‘Pioneer of the New Age."
Psychology Today, September-October, 2003, review of Hidden Depths, p. 82.
Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1998, review of Prophet, p. 72; March 8, 2004, review of Athens, p. 62.
Times Higher Education Supplement, December 11, 1998, Shabbir Akhtar, review of Prophet, p. 29.
Times Literary Supplement, August 28, 1998, Roz Kaveney, review of Prophet, p. 36.
USA Today, August 10, 2004, ‘Stop the Critiques and Salute Greece,’ p. 10.
Wilson Quarterly, autumn, 2004, Michael Poliakoff, review of Athens, p. 120.
Penguin Books Web site,http://www.penguin.co.uk/ (November 10, 2007), brief profile of Robin Waterfield.
Royal Literary Fund Web site,http://rlf.org.uk/ (November 10, 2007), biographical information on Robin Waterfield.