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October Books 3) Confessions

3) Confessions, by St Augustine

The end of my reading project is nigh. I have to admit I skimmed quite a lot of this; eloquent and heartfelt pleas to the Lord are all very well but get a bit samey after a while. Also Augustine's misogyny is really rather repulsive; by his own admission, he abandons his partner of fifteen years to make a socially convenient marriage (though he keeps custody of his son) - this at the behest of his mother, who is exalted throughout as an exemplar of saintliness.

Having said that, when on form he was a very good writer. His self-consciously funny line about his youthful flings, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" is one that I have used and adapted for many speeches. I found the passages on memory, and on the nature of time,well-expressed, though I doubt if they actually included any new ideas. Given my own past interests, I was very interested in what he has to say about astrology: his arguments against it are basically sound. Not surprising, in a way, that Augustine was one of the first Christian writers to insist that if science contradicts the words of the Bible, we should not take the Bible literally.

Anyway, I wish (and this is not something I often say of a book) that he had written less about lust and more about philosophy.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2006 12:04 pm (UTC)
I went through a questioning phase in my early 20s and bought St.Augustine's City of God. I never got to read it, but my wife read it a few years ago when she was doing a degree in theology.

I wish...that he had written less about lust and more about philosophy.

There's a difference?
Oct. 15th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
That's 'The City of God', I think
Oct. 16th, 2006 02:43 am (UTC)
Ever read Gaarder's That Same Flower?
Oct. 16th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
No, should I?
Oct. 16th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
When I read it at the time, I was impressed by Gaarder's description of St. Augustine's concubine and her point of her and their implications for his philosophy. Might have been me, though.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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