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"There is nothing wiser than the circle," Rilke says in his Stories of God. John Dunne's new book explores the wisdom of the circle. He uses the metaphor of the circle dance, a folk dance in which the women form an inner circle, holding hands and moving clockwise; the men form an outer circle, moving counterclockwise. When the music stops the person opposite you is your partner for the next dance. Dunne interprets the circle as the great circle of life and light and love that comes from God and returns to God. Dunne emphasizes the far point on the circle, farthest away from God, and uses that to discuss the difficulties of our secular age. In the individual life, the far point is a dark night of the soul. Yet Dunne sees that far point of loneliness and darkness as a point as well, marking the return to love and light. So the theme of the book is like the words of an old Bedouin to Lawrence of Arabia, "The love is from God, and of God, and towards God." The book concludes with the words of twenty-one "Circle Songs," composed by the author.
Literature, Culture, and Ideology in Late Medieval England
In The Claims of Poverty, Kate Crassons explores a widespread ideological crisis concerning poverty that emerged in the aftermath of the plague in late medieval England. She identifies poverty as a central preoccupation in texts ranging from Piers Plowman and Wycliffite writings to The Book of Margery Kempe and the York cycle plays. Crassons shows that these and other works form a complex body of writing in which poets, dramatists, and preachers anxiously wrestled with the status of poverty as a force that is at once a sacred imitation of Christ and a social stigma; a voluntary form of life and an unwelcome hardship; an economic reality and a spiritual disposition. Crassons argues that literary texts significantly influenced the cultural conversation about poverty, deepening our understanding of its urgency as a social, economic, and religious issue. These texts not only record debates about the nature of poverty as a form of either vice or virtue, but explore epistemological and ethical aspects of the debates. When faced with a claim of poverty, people effectively become readers interpreting the signs of need in the body and speech of their fellow human beings. The literary and dramatic texts of late medieval England embodied the complexity of such interaction with particular acuteness, revealing the ethical stakes of interpretation as an act with direct material consequences. As The Claims of Poverty demonstrates, medieval literature shaped perceptions about who is defined as "poor," and in so doing it emerged as a powerful cultural force that promoted competing models of community, sanctity, and justice.
Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot
Maurice Blanchot is perhaps best known as a major French intellectual of the twentieth century: the man who countered Sartre’s views on literature, who affirmed the work of Sade and Lautréamont, who gave eloquent voice to the generation of ’68, and whose philosophical and literary work influenced the writing of, among others, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault. He is also regarded as one of the most acute narrative writers in France since Marcel Proust. In Clandestine Encounters, Kevin Hart has gathered together major literary critics in Britain, France, and the United States to engage with Blanchot’s immense, fascinating, and difficult body of creative work. Hart’s substantial introduction usefully places Blanchot as a significant contributor to the tradition of the French philosophical novel, beginning with Voltaire’s Candide in 1759, and best known through the works of Sartre. Clandestine Encounters considers a selection of Blanchot’s narrative writings over the course of almost sixty years, from stories written in the mid-1930s to L’instant de ma mort (1994). Collectively, the contributors’ close readings of Blanchot’s novels, récits, and stories illuminate the close relationship between philosophy and narrative in his work while underscoring the variety and complexity of these narratives.
A Companion to Early Irish Saga
Coire Sois, The Cauldron of Knowledge: A Companion to Early Irish Saga offers thirty-one previously published essays by Tomás Ó Cathasaigh, which together constitute a magisterial survey of early Irish narrative literature in the vernacular. Ó Cathasaigh has been called “the father of early Irish literary criticism,” with writings among the most influential in the field. He pioneered the analysis of the classic early Irish tales as literary texts, a breakthrough at a time when they were valued mainly as repositories of grammatical forms, historical data, and mythological debris. All four of the Mythological, Ulster, King, and Finn Cycles are represented here in readings of richness, complexity, and sophistication, supported by absolute philological rigor and yet easy for the non-specialist to follow. The book covers key terms, important characters, recurring themes, rhetorical strategies, and the narrative logic of this literature. It also surveys the work of the many others whose explorations were launched by Ó Cathasaigh's first encounters with the literature. As the most authoritative single volume on the essential texts and themes of early Irish saga, this collection will be an indispensable resource for established scholars, and an ideal introduction for newcomers to one of the richest and most under-studied literatures of medieval Europe.
Essays on Race, Family, and History
In 1991, acclaimed poet Kenneth A. McClane published Walls: Essays, 1985-1990, a volume of essays dealing with life in Harlem, the death of his alcoholic brother, and the complexities of being black and middle-class in America. Now, in Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History, McClane contributes further to his self-described “autobiographical sojourn” with a second collection of interconnected essays. In McClane’s words, “All concern race, although they, like the human spirit, wildly sweep and yaw.” A timely installment in our national narrative, Color is a chronicle of the black middle class, a group rarely written about with sensitivity and charity. In evocative, trenchant, and poetic prose, McClane employs the art of the memoirist to explore the political and the personal. He details the poignant narrative of racial progress as witnessed by his family during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. We learn of his parents’ difficult upbringing in Boston, where they confronted much racism; of the struggles they and McClane encountered as they became the first blacks to enter previously all-white institutions, including the oldest independent school in the United States; and of the part his parents played in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. King and others. The book ends with a tender account of his parents in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed both their lives.
In Complicity and Moral Accountability, Gregory Mellema presents a philosophical approach to the moral issues involved in complicity. Starting with a taxonomy of Thomas Aquinas, according to whom there are nine ways for one to become complicit in the wrongdoing of another, Mellema analyzes each kind of complicity and examines the moral status of someone complicit in each of these ways. Mellema’s central argument is that one must perform a contributing action to qualify as an accomplice, and that it is always morally blameworthy to perform such an action. Additionally, he argues that an accomplice frequently bears moral responsibility for the outcome of the other’s wrongdoing, but he distinguishes this case from cases in which the accomplice is tainted by the wrongdoing of the principal actor. He further distinguishes between enabling, facilitating, and condoning harm, and introduces the concept of indirect complicity. Mellema tackles issues that are clearly important to any case of collective and shared responsibility, yet rarely discussed in depth, always presenting his arguments clearly, concisely, and engagingly. His account of the nonmoral as well as moral qualities of complicity in wrongdoing—especially of the many and varied ways in which principles and accomplices can interact—is highly illuminating. Liberally sprinkled with helpful and nuanced examples, Complicity and Moral Accountability vividly illustrates the many ways in which one may be complicit in wrongdoing.
Perspectives on the Ethics of K. E. Logstrup
The Danish philosopher K. E. Løgstrup is best known in the Anglo-American world for his original work in ethics, primarily in The Ethical Demand (original Danish edition, 1956). Løgstrup continued to write extensively on issues in ethics and phenomenology throughout his life, and extracts from some of his later writings are now also available in translation in Beyond the Ethical Demand. In Concern for the Other: The Ethics of K. E. Løgstrup, eleven scholars examine the structure, intention, and originality of Løgstrup's ethics as a whole. This collection of essays is a companion to Beyond the Ethical Demand, as well as to The Ethical Demand. The essays examine Løgstrup’s crucial concept of the “sovereign expressions of life”; his view of moral principles as a substitute for, or inferior form of, ethics; his relationships to other philosophers, including the twentieth-century British moral philosophers; and the role of his Lutheran background in his ethics. Løgstrup also firmly advanced the controversial thesis, examined by several essays in this volume, that the demand for “other-concern” central to his ethics does not depend on religious faith.
Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation
At the end of his landmark 1994 book, The Soul of the American University, historian George Marsden asserted that religious faith does indeed have a place in today’s academia. Marsden’s contention sparked a heated debate on the role of religious faith and intellectual scholarship in academic journals and in the mainstream media. The contributors to Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation expand the discussion about religion’s role in education and culture and examine what the relationship between faith and learning means for the academy today. The contributors to Confessing History ask how the vocation of historian affects those who are also followers of Christ. What implications do Christian faith and practice have for living out one’s calling as an historian? And to what extent does one’s calling as a Christian disciple speak to the nature, quality, or goals of one’s work as scholar, teacher, adviser, writer, community member, or social commentator? Written from several different theological and professional points of view, the essays collected in this volume explore the vocation of the historian and its place in both the personal and professional lives of Christian disciples.
A Phenomenological Theology
Mapping Peru in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Landscape is never static, but changes continuously when seen in relation to human occupation, movement, labor, and discourse. Contested Territory explores the ways in which Peru’s early colonial landscapes were experienced and portrayed, especially by the Spanish conquerors but also by their conquered subjects. It focuses on the role played by indigenous groups in shaping the Spanish experiences of landscapes, the diverse geographical images of Peru and ways in which these were constructed and contested, and what this can tell us about the nature of colonial relations in post-conquest Peru. This exceptional study, which draws from archival records and sources such as cartographies, offers a richly nuanced view of the complexity of colonial relations. It will be read with appreciation by those interested in Spanish history, geography, and colonialism.