Plunged into a strange land at twenty-six, Benjamin Moser began an obsessive, decades-long study of the Dutch masters to make his world right again.
Arriving as a young writer in an ancient Dutch town, Benjamin Moser was flummoxed, as any newcomer might be, by the language, people, and culture. As he started exploring his newly adopted country, he stumbled upon the great painters of the Dutch Golden Age, that galaxy of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists―Rembrandt, Hals, and Vermeer among them―who seemed to be asking the same questions he’d been grappling with: Why do we make art? What even is art, anyway? Does it provide solace? Or something more necessary to human happiness? Year after year, Moser coaxed answers out of these old paintings, discovering in Rembrandt an affinity for the “unequivocally dead,” and in Ter Borch, an astonishing intimacy. Featuring seventeen artists and a beautifully designed, four-color text, The Upside-Down World, in the tradition of How Proust Can Change Your Life, seeks to explain how such resplendent beauty can―indeed must―flourish in a Iworld so endlessly marred by tragedy.