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Augustine's Confessions (Lives of Great Religious Books)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this brief and incisive book, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills tells the story of the Confessions--what motivated Augustine to dictate it, how it asks to be read, and the many ways it has been misread in the one-and-a-half millennia since it was composed. Following Wills's biography of Augustine and his translation of the Confessions, this is an unparalleled introduction to one of the most important books in the Christian and Western traditions.

Understandably fascinated by the story of Augustine's life, modern readers have largely succumbed to the temptation to read the Confessions as autobiography. But, Wills argues, this is a mistake. The book is not autobiography but rather a long prayer, suffused with the language of Scripture and addressed to God, not man. Augustine tells the story of his life not for its own significance but in order to discern how, as a drama of sin and salvation leading to God, it fits into sacred history. "We have to read Augustine as we do Dante," Wills writes, "alert to rich layer upon layer of Scriptural and theological symbolism." Wills also addresses the long afterlife of the book, from controversy in its own time and relative neglect during the Middle Ages to a renewed prominence beginning in the fourteenth century and persisting to today, when the Confessions has become an object of interest not just for Christians but also historians, philosophers, psychiatrists, and literary critics.

With unmatched clarity and skill, Wills strips away the centuries of misunderstanding that have accumulated around Augustine's spiritual classic.

Synopsis:

"Garry Wills rescues Augustine's Confessions from its posterity, peeling away layer after layer of anachronistic reactions to the text and providing an invaluable aid to readers. A master restorer, Wills gives us a picture carefully cleaned of a millennium-and-a-half of varnish. More than that: he helps us appreciate what the original colors actually meant to those who first made contact with Augustine's strange book. This is vintage Wills--punchy, clear, well-argued, and beautifully translated, both linguistically and culturally."--Peter Brown, Princeton University, author of Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

"This is a sensitive, informed, and just appreciation of and introduction to the Confessions. It does justice both to the appealing narrative of sin and fall that preoccupies most readers and to the more complicated structure and ending of the whole work. Few books on the Confessions rival the excellence or concision of this one."--James J. O'Donnell, Georgetown University, author of Augustine: A New Biography

Synopsis:

In this brief and incisive book, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills tells the story of the Confessions--what motivated Augustine to dictate it, how it asks to be read, and the many ways it has been misread in the one-and-a-half millennia since it was composed. Following Wills's biography of Augustine and his translation of the Confessions, this is an unparalleled introduction to one of the most important books in the Christian and Western traditions.

Understandably fascinated by the story of Augustine's life, modern readers have largely succumbed to the temptation to read the Confessions as autobiography. But, Wills argues, this is a mistake. The book is not autobiography but rather a long prayer, suffused with the language of Scripture and addressed to God, not man. Augustine tells the story of his life not for its own significance but in order to discern how, as a drama of sin and salvation leading to God, it fits into sacred history. "We have to read Augustine as we do Dante," Wills writes, "alert to rich layer upon layer of Scriptural and theological symbolism." Wills also addresses the long afterlife of the book, from controversy in its own time and relative neglect during the Middle Ages to a renewed prominence beginning in the fourteenth century and persisting to today, when the Confessions has become an object of interest not just for Christians but also historians, philosophers, psychiatrists, and literary critics.

With unmatched clarity and skill, Wills strips away the centuries of misunderstanding that have accumulated around Augustine's spiritual classic.

About the Author

Garry Wills is the best-selling author of many books on religion and American history, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lincoln at Gettysburg" (Simon and Schuster). His recent books include "St. Augustine: A Life" (Viking) and a translation of "Augustine's Confessions" (Penguin Classics).

Table of Contents

A Note on the Translation vii

Chapter 1: The Book's Birth 1

Chapter 2 :The Book's Genre 17

Chapter 3: The Book's African Days 26

Chapter 4: The Book's Ambrose 41

Chapter 5: The Book's "Conversion" 58

Chapter 6: The Book's Baptismal Days 78

Chapter 7: The Book's Hinge 98

Chapter 8: The Book's Culmination 112

Chapter 9: The Book's Afterlife: Early

Reception, Later Neglect 133

Notes 149

Basic Readings 155

Index 157

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691143576
Author:
Wills, Garry
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
Church History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Christianity-Church History General
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
7.5 x 4.5 in 9 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
History and Social Science » Law » General
Religion » Christianity » Christian Fiction
Religion » Christianity » Church History » Early
Religion » Christianity » Church History » General
Religion » Christianity » Saints and Sainthood
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » Theology

Augustine's Confessions (Lives of Great Religious Books) New Hardcover
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Product details 176 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691143576 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Garry Wills rescues Augustine's Confessions from its posterity, peeling away layer after layer of anachronistic reactions to the text and providing an invaluable aid to readers. A master restorer, Wills gives us a picture carefully cleaned of a millennium-and-a-half of varnish. More than that: he helps us appreciate what the original colors actually meant to those who first made contact with Augustine's strange book. This is vintage Wills--punchy, clear, well-argued, and beautifully translated, both linguistically and culturally."--Peter Brown, Princeton University, author of Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

"This is a sensitive, informed, and just appreciation of and introduction to the Confessions. It does justice both to the appealing narrative of sin and fall that preoccupies most readers and to the more complicated structure and ending of the whole work. Few books on the Confessions rival the excellence or concision of this one."--James J. O'Donnell, Georgetown University, author of Augustine: A New Biography

"Synopsis" by , In this brief and incisive book, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills tells the story of the Confessions--what motivated Augustine to dictate it, how it asks to be read, and the many ways it has been misread in the one-and-a-half millennia since it was composed. Following Wills's biography of Augustine and his translation of the Confessions, this is an unparalleled introduction to one of the most important books in the Christian and Western traditions.

Understandably fascinated by the story of Augustine's life, modern readers have largely succumbed to the temptation to read the Confessions as autobiography. But, Wills argues, this is a mistake. The book is not autobiography but rather a long prayer, suffused with the language of Scripture and addressed to God, not man. Augustine tells the story of his life not for its own significance but in order to discern how, as a drama of sin and salvation leading to God, it fits into sacred history. "We have to read Augustine as we do Dante," Wills writes, "alert to rich layer upon layer of Scriptural and theological symbolism." Wills also addresses the long afterlife of the book, from controversy in its own time and relative neglect during the Middle Ages to a renewed prominence beginning in the fourteenth century and persisting to today, when the Confessions has become an object of interest not just for Christians but also historians, philosophers, psychiatrists, and literary critics.

With unmatched clarity and skill, Wills strips away the centuries of misunderstanding that have accumulated around Augustine's spiritual classic.

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