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Is Jordan Peterson’s book all it’s cracked up to be?

Jordan Peterson in 2018 (TT News Agency / Alamy)

Jordan Peterson has never been shy about dispensing advice. But has the court of the Canadian philosopher king now overreached itself? A copy of Peterson’s book ‘Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life’ sparked something of a Twitter storm yesterday, when critic James Marriott noted how a truncated form of his Times review has appeared on the back of Paterson’s book. Here’s how publishers Allen Lane quoted Marriott’s words on the book of Peterson’s paperback edition:

A philosophy of the meaning of life… the most lucid and touching prose Peterson has written.

Pretty gushing right? But here’s what Marriott’s review actually wrote in the Times in March 2021:

Peterson calls in his hero, “psychoanalyst extraordinaire” Carl Jung, whose theory of the collective unconscious proposes that myths and stories in the culture at large offer clues to universal human attributes, desires and fears. This licenses Peterson (Dan Brown-style symbologist of the western canon) to hunt down these clues to construct a philosophy of the meaning of life. The predictable flaw is that Peterson’s readings of these myths are shaped by his idiosyncratic personality… To insist on endless struggle and endless heroism and endless meaning is to cut yourself off from a great deal of what is best in people and in the world. Does Peterson suspect this? Rule VIII: Try to Make One Room in Your Home as Beautiful as Possible (in my opinion one of the most sensitive and lucid passages of prose he has written) concerns art and interior design.

Not only did this truncated form of Marriott’s words somewhat distort his review but the publishers also managed to insert the word ‘touching’ in there – a word he never used. It’s hardly an isolated incident too. Johanna Thomas-Corr has now tweeted her disgust at the ‘gross misrepresentation of my 2,000+ word New Statesman review of his book.’

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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