On Not Knowing

Emily Ogden


We send all orders via Royal Mail: within the UK, choose from 1st Class, 2nd Class or Special Delivery; for the rest of the world, International Standard or International Tracked. Delivery and packaging charges are calculated automatically at the checkout.

To collect orders in person from the Bookshop, choose Click and Collect at the checkout.

Peninsula Press
22 September 2022
ISBN: 9781913512156
128 pages

From the publisher

A beautifully written suite of personal essays on the value of not knowing

Moments of clarity are rare and fleeting; how can we become comfortable outside of them, in the more general condition of uncertainty within which we make our lives? Written by critic Emily Ogden while her children were small, On Not Knowing forays into this rich, ambivalent space. Each of her sharply observed essays invites the reader to think with her about questions she can’t set aside: not knowing how to give birth, to listen, to hold it together, to love.

Unapologetically capacious in her range of reference and idiosyncratic in the canon she draws on, Ogden moves nimbly among the registers of experience, from the operation of a breast pump to the art of herding cattle; from one-night stands to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Committed to the accumulation of knowledge, Ogden nonetheless fi nds that knowingness for her can be a way of getting stuck, a way of not really living. Rather than the defensiveness of wilful ignorance, On Not Knowing celebrates the defencelessness of not knowing yet – which, Ogden suggests, may be a form of love.

‘Ogden’s essays are remarkable for their subtle and ingenious curiosity. Her willingness to be at once candid, lucid, and utterly intriguing – in a language lyrical and exact – makes these essays irresistibly compelling. The vision and revision that is her writing renews the essay as a vital form.’ Adam Phillips