This book is as fresh today as it was 25 years ago when it was originally published. John Sallis continues to be one of the most interesting voices in philosophy in the U.S. In this magnificent work Sallis explores several of the most important dialogues in the platonic corpus by concentrating upon the interaction between logos--speech or writing--and "being" within those works. What we get is an impressive set of interpretations upon old favorites: Meno, Apology, Republic, Sophist, Phaedrus, Cratylus. Since Sallis has been heavily influenced by Heidegger and Derrida he pays particular attention to the form of the dialogues and their slippery language. Rather than the tired old cliches about Plato's "theory of ideas" or "theory of hedonism" we get compelling, insightful interpretations about the twists-and-turns in the dialogues and the interplay between interlocutors. This book so rich as to defy the conventional, short review.
It is works like this which remind us that Plato is every bit as radical and profound today as he was 2,500 years ago. Put down those dreadful books by Vlastos and Nehemas; pick this one up! You will not be sorry.
The problem with Plato's dialogues is that they were written over 2,500 yeqrs ago. That's not Plato's problem, it's ours. The whole cultural milieu, on which the dialogue draw heavily, no longer exists. What's a Mother to do? Well if you get Doctor Sallis' marvelous little book you will be given guided tours of several important dialogues: Meno, Phaedrus, Republic and others. Of course, it doesn't replace actually reading the dialogues, and his language is a tad Heideggerian (but not offensively so). All in all a good read.