Synopses & Reviews
In this ambitious book, acclaimed writer Marilynne Robinson applies her astute intellect to some of the most vexing topics in the history of human thought—science, religion, and consciousness. Crafted with the same care and insight as her award-winning novels, Absence of Mind
challenges postmodern atheists who crusade against religion under the banner of science. In Robinsons view, scientific reasoning does not denote a sense of logical infallibility, as thinkers like Richard Dawkins might suggest. Instead, in its purest form, science represents a search for answers. It engages the problem of knowledge, an aspect of the mystery of consciousness, rather than providing a simple and final model of reality.
By defending the importance of individual reflection, Robinson celebrates the power and variety of human consciousness in the tradition of William James. She explores the nature of subjectivity and considers the culture in which Sigmund Freud was situated and its influence on his model of self and civilization. Through keen interpretations of language, emotion, science, and poetry, Absence of Mind restores human consciousness to its central place in the religion-science debate.
"I first encountered Marilynne Robinson in 1983, at the beginning of her fame. Housekeeping
had just won the 1982 Hemingway Foundation/PEN award for first fiction, and she had come to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where she is now a member of the faculty, to read from her award-winning novel. I had read Housekeeping
with awe. Seeing the author in person was an inspiration to me. I'd come to the Workshop with three small children and my husband -- I'll resist the temptation to say "in tow" -- straight from my ordinary life as a high school teacher in Milwaukee. Apart from having a lot of reading to catch up on, I felt marked by my apparent domesticity, my lack of writerly panache, even my age. (I was an ancient 31 at the time.) And now here came Marilynne Robinson, with her extraordinary first novel, apparently about my age or even a few years older, and nothing of the black turtleneck about her. She looked like an ordinary person." Mary Helen Stefaniak, Cerise Press
(Read the entire Cerise Press review
About the Author
Marilynne Robinson is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; Home, winner of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction; and Housekeeping, winner of the 1982 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction. She is also the author of two previous books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Iowa City.