Paul Rossetti Bjarnason took five years out from his studies to win a silver medal for Canada in weightlifting at the 1967 Pan-American Games, and to compete at the Mexico Olympics in the following year.

The Vancouver-born writer went on to complete a philosophy degree and then to teach secondary school in Vancouver for twenty years, during which time he and his wife, Valerie, began publishing educational handbooks written by BC teachers, as well as producing several works of their own. But the book that is closest to the heart of this Icelandic-Italian author concerns philosophy. His Stargazers: Stories of the first philosophers (O Books, UK $19.95) fulfils a long-standing pledge: "I started writing Stargazers when my daughter was in high school," he says. "I wanted to provide a memorable answer to her question What is philosophy? So I promised to write a book of stories depicting the first philosophers in the very act of being philosophers. My aim was to transport readers directly into the philosophers' lives, inviting them to answer the question for themselves." Although the first few chapters came quickly, other commitments intervened, including postgraduate studies in ancient philosophy, and sidetracked the project for several years. But during work on his thesis on Epicurean ethics, Bjarnason was introduced to the works of the French scholar Pierre Hadot. "When I first read Hadot's essays," he recalls, "I encountered a view that not only takes account of the existential dimension of philosophy, but actually accords it a primary status. The question How should one live? was of fundamental importance to all the ancient philosophers; it was bound up with their chosen way of living and its consequent rational discourse. For me, Hadot's representation of ancient philosophy highlighted its profound relevance to everyday life, and I was inspired to return to the task of portraying that relevance... The ancient philosophers remain supreme exemplars. They are an inexhaustible source not only of wonder and delight but also of a practical wisdom that is still capable of leading us toward flourishing lives -- to a kind of living that is consistent with our very survival as a species. What could possibly be more timely?"

After Bjarnason spent twenty-two years teaching secondary school English and mathematics (including logic), as well as an introductory philosophy course for senior high school students, he retired from teaching in order to work at publishing and writing. He and his wife Val have managed LPL Publishers since 1989, through which they have published a series of provincial examination preparatory handbooks written by BC teachers (e.g., The Math 12 Handbook, The Physics 12 Handbook, The Chemistry 12 Handbook, The English 12 Handbook, The Biology 12 Handbook, etc.). In 2001, he returned to formal studies, completing an MPhil in Ancient Cultures in 2004.



ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: Icelandic and Italian

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Publishing of educational handbooks


Stargazers: Stories of the first philosophers, John Hunt Publishing, UK (O Books imprint), September/October 2007

The Math 12 Handbook: a student guide, 6th edition, LPL Publishers, 2007

The English 12 Handbook: a student guide, 3rd edition, LPL Publishers, 2005

Weight Training for Everyone, Lifting Press (self-published) 1985; Foreword by Doug Hepburn, former World's Strongest Man.

[BCBW 2007] "Sports" "Science"