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Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age
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Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Culture, Not Politics.

We live in a politicized time. Culture wars and increasingly partisan conflicts have reduced public discourse to shouting matches between ideologues. But rather than merely bemoaning the vulgarity and sloganeering of this era, says acclaimed author and editor Gregory Wolfe, we should seek to enrich the language of civil discourse. And the best way to
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 15th 2011 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute
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M.G. Bianco
Over the summer, I was sitting in a hotel lobby reading Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child while waiting for the opening ceremonies of a conference on classical education. A young man approached me and commented how much he liked that book. I told him that it might be my favorite book of 2011 once I finished it. He responded that it could be, but wondered if I had read Beauty Will Save the World--his favorite book of 2011. I hadn't.

Now I have. I think it would be fair to distingui
Anne White
This is not for everyone. There's a strong assumption that the reader knows enough about Dante, T.S. Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, just as a start, that he/she can have a meaningful "conversation" about them with Gregory Wolfe. If not, we're either going to say "wait here" like Helene Hanff reading Quiller-Couch (while we run and catch up on what we missed), or give up in frustration.

There's also an assumption that we will "get" the Roman Catholic mindset that draws many of
Jeremy Purves
"There is a large body of believers who have essentially given up on contemporary culture; they may admire a few writers here or there, but they do not really believe that Western culture can produce anything that might inform and deepen their own faith. One might almost say that these individuals have given in to despair about our time. For me, the most depressing trend of all is the extent to which Christians have belittled or ignored the imagination and succumbed to politicized and ideologica ...more
Kim  Neve
Jul 24, 2011 Kim Neve is currently reading it
The author of "Beauty will save the world" gets his quote from Dostoevsky. He says, on page one, "The phrase stuck in my mind, and found corroboration in my studies of the role of the imagination in the social order. Like Solzhenitsyn I have been won over by Dostoevsky's wisdom. Whereas I once believed that the decadence of the West could only be turned around through politics and intellectual dialectics, I am now convinced that authentic renewal can only emerge out of the imaginative visions of ...more
D.M. Dutcher
A collection of essays and short biographical sketches loosely organized into a book. Only half of the book is directly devoted to the premise listed in the title, and it's not very good. Too much focus on the author himself and too much repetition. (count the times you see T.S. Eliot mentioned in the first two chapters.) Even then, he seems far more interested in doing brief literary biography and criticism of specific writers than making a lucid or serious manifesto about how beauty will save ...more
Stephen Wolfe
I hoped for much more from this book. Full of redundant essays analyzing the work of various Roman Catholic authors and artists and replete with descriptions of the Puritan boogeyman (that alleged pragmatic nature-hater who brought about American modernity), the book can be reduced to one conclusion: Roman Catholicism will save the world. Apart from a couple chapters in the beginning and the chapter on Russell Kirk, there isn't much here.

I further analyze his misunderstanding of the Puritans he
I really liked this because of its message that the truth needs to be shown and seen as beautiful, in other words, that a raw, ideological message will not win the day. The clue is if you are preaching in fatigues and heavy boots (+ dark glasses), then you are probably off of the mark!

There are specific chapter on Evelyn Waugh, Russell Kirk, Wendell Berry,as well as a list of lesser known writers and artists. The general thrust is Catholic in the Roman sense, but there is plenty here for robust
Allen Roth
I don't associate Dostoevsky with Beauty but the title of this important book is a quote by the great Russian writer. Mr. Wolfe is on an important campaign to promote beauty, truth, and knowledge of great humanists. It may sound dull but this book is anything but dull. In its pages you will find insights into our culture and you will meet (perhaps for the first time) important authors, poets, and artists.This book is built on the premise that culture is more important than politics and people wh ...more
Janet Contreras-mares
Beauty will save the world:

Reading this book really helped me personally with this writing 102 course because this book contained elements of autobiography which helped me get a feel and personal connection with the author. It also included voices in contemporary art and literature perspectives. Wolfe started with his journey explaining the adventures and obstacles he had to over come in order to have become the person he is today in this world. He brings back perspectives that now a days we do
This is a very interesting collection of essays from the editor of the magazine Image. He tries to rehabilitate the need for artistic beauty. It is interesting because Wolfe is a conservative who attended Hillsdale College, the center of intellectual conservatism, but became disillusioned with much that past as "conservatism" in the wake of Reagan's election. He thus sets out to argue for a vision of conservatism that has affinities with Christian artists (or is it an artistic vision that has af ...more
I liked this book. I especially liked the chapters on authors and political figures. I think my favorites were Wendell Berry and Russell Kirk, because I was fascinated with them to begin with, but didn't know much. I also liked the section on Flannery O'Connor, because it helped me understand why I can't get comfortable in her stories.

Parts of the book were rough going. Sometimes I had trouble following his arguments. Other times I struggled with my own lack of theoretical literary knowledge. I
The American Conservative
'Wolfe’s humanism is sacramental, based on his sense that culture and art can become analogues for the Incarnation. He notes the late Welsh poet David Jones’s observation—in the latter’s “Art and Sacrament”—that the Eucharist, the preeminent Christian sacrament, consists of bread and wine, not wheat and grapes. “In other words, the gifts offered to God at the altar are not the untouched products of the earth but artifacts, transformed through human hands through an art.”

The work of social change
Gregory Wolfe is, first and foremost, a Christian humanist and convert to Catholicism; in many ways, a persistent and persuasive "gadfly" (his words, not mine), a thought-provoking and perspicacious literary critic and voice, and a very wise man of letters. His seminal book Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age seeks to save the lost coin/key/sheep of culture and restore the triune relationship between beauty, goodness, and truthiness by bridging the great divide ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Reema added it
Nothing gripping beside one or two interesting points. Not much to keep you reading on.
Title a bit deceiving -- thought there be more about Dostoyevsky (from which the title is taken), but more or less this starts out as an autobiographical journey then interceded with short examinations of novelists (mostly of the Catholic conservative variety like Flannery O'Connor), artists, and "men of letters" (including most notably, conservative political theorist Russell Kirk). Interesting at points, and has spurned me to investigate these artists and writers further (most of which I not t ...more
Gregory Wolfe, in "Beauty Will Save the World," uses personal accounts along with contemporary art and literature perspectives to allow the reader to fully understand and appreciate beauty and eventually embrace culture and tradition to rescue the world we currently live in. This book arises the question: if politics and logic have failed at reconstructing our world, why not try something different? Perhaps beauty, the one thing that people doubt will work, will be the one to “save the world.”
In my own search for a practical means by which my art-making can influence culture for the common good, Gregory Wolfe has given me tremendous counsel. It's one thing to identify and name a problem. It's quite another to demonstrate a remedy. Wolfe does so with tremendous insight, intelligence, and tangible, practical counsel. This book has earned its place on my Artist's Bookshelf as a life-reference work to be read and re-read.
Bo White

Didn't like the structure as much (thought it was more unified than it is), but some of the insights and essays are good.
Ah, if only Gregory Wolfe actually explained why beauty would save the world
Uneven, but the good parts are really good.
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Gregory Wolfe is the founder and editor of Image, one of America’s leading quarterly journals. He serves as Writer in Residence and Director of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program at Seattle Pacific University. His imprint, Slant, publishes literary fiction. Wolfe’s books include Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age, Intruding Upon the Timeless: Medi ...more
More about Gregory Wolfe...

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“it is the very nature of the humanities, and in particular the study of literature, to help remind thoughtful people of the ambiguities and dangers of intemperate denunciations and the rhetoric of polarization.” 1 likes
“We have had a number of books casting the acid of angry rejection over the spirit of our age. They are not in error; it is only that in many cases they do not get us anywhere.” 0 likes
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