The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia

The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia

by Bernard Suits
  • academic
  • critically-acclaimed
  • from-ontario
  • humour
  • sports
In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. “Nonsense,” said the sensible Bernard Suits: “playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop’s Grasshopper, a “shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology,” Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia. This new edition of The Grasshopper includes illustrations from Frank Newfeld created for the book’s original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka and a new appendix on the meaning of ‘play.’


Bernard Suits, author

The late Bernard Suits was Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo.


  • "The Grasshopper" is an amazing book. Philosophically profound, yet genuinely funny. While primarily an articulation and defense of a highly plausible definition of games (and we all know what Wittgenstein said about that), it also manages to raise some of the deepest and most challenging questions about the meaning of life. All in the form of dialogues between an insect and his disciples! There is simply nothing else like it. - Shelly Kagan, Yale University Link to review

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Broadview Press; please note that rights to the illustrations and calligraphy must be negotiated separately.



rights sold: Japan, China, Poland, Portugal, France, Korea

rights available: World

Additional Information

age range: University undergraduate

number of pages: 264

publication date: 04/03/2014

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book