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Finalists for the 1992-1993 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes : BIOGRAPHY

September 05, 1993|MARJORIE LEWELLYN MARKS | Marjorie Lewellyn Marks is manager of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and a contributing author of "Life Guidance Through Literature" (American Library Assn.)

CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE: A Life by Joseph Brent (Indiana University Press). New documentation has made possible this first biography of "the greatest philosopher the United States has ever seen, who was an experimental psychologist, mathematical economist, chemist, astronomer and engineer, the inventor of semiotics and the founder of pragmatism," according to Brent. Yet he was also a tormented and tragic figure who lived extravagantly beyond his means, recklessly pursued get-rich-quick schemes and sank into poverty. Despite his recognized great mind, he was shunned by academia and his promise as a philosopher was never realized in his lifetime. Considered the father of pragmatism, who believed that ideas could find meaning only if they "worked" in the world, his inability to make his own life work seems perversely ironic.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists and winners are selected in each category by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced in the Book Review issue of October 31.

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