A very difficult book to classify. One might say "The Just City" bears the same relationship to classical Greek philosophCloser to 4 stars than three.
A very difficult book to classify. One might say "The Just City" bears the same relationship to classical Greek philosophy that science fiction does to science.
It's a story about an experimental attempt to create a city that embodies the ideals of Plato's Republic, and the places where reality is simply incompatible with the ideal, thus illuminating flaws in that ideal.
It's a sort of philosophical parable; the characters in the Just City (which include both adults from various times, and children/youths of ancient Greece) care and talk about justice, slavery, excellence, deception, and friendship. The practice of rhetoric is central in the way that the practice of science is in SF.
The viewpoint characters include a couple of Greek gods. Don't let this put you off the book, or dismiss it as mythology: instead, accept them as real elements of the universe in which the book takes place. (Or, just consider them as aliens, if that's more familiar.)
I liked the book very much, except for the treatment of one theme; but I also perceive that treatment to be a strength of the book. (just, an unpleasant one to read)
Early on in the book, when they're still setting up the Just City and deciding how everything will work, one of the women is raped by one of the men. After arranging to go for a walk with her in private, he tells her that he wants to have sex with her, ignores her refusal, tells her that she wants to, rapes her, and then tells her that she enjoyed it.
Afterwards, she tells some of the other women about it, and they discuss whether to bring the matter before the emerging city government: clearly, this violates the principles of the Just City.
But they're legitimately afraid that it won't be treated as obviously wrong, because the adult population is dominated by men from eras in which women had no rights. And they're legitimately afraid that the controversy would doom the experiment from the start. Better to keep quiet, they decide. She'll just avoid him in future.
And so from the beginning, the experiment is poisoned.
The whole book isn't about this, but it keeps creeping up, breaking through, one way or another. It's very well done, but very disturbing, which is why I think it's a huge part of the point of the book.
This theme arguably serves as a concrete fictional example of the question often raised by feminist critique of the Western canon: if all the canonical writers are male, then what perspectives are thereby excluded from the canon? What problems, what themes, what practicalities won't be considered? (hide spoiler)]
It's a very feminist book, in a very subtle way.
It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but at the same time it's the right place for a book about the Just City to end: (view spoiler)[when the city breaks down as a functioning social order (hide spoiler)]. But it doesn't resolve any of the issues that caused that to happen.
I may read the sequel (I assume there will be one); in terms of characters and plot, I came to be reasonably invested and curious. But in terms of the rhetorical substance of the book, it feels satisfyingly complete. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Picked this up at the interfaith library booksale today - it caught my eye because I recently learned about St Edith's work on empathy while researchiPicked this up at the interfaith library booksale today - it caught my eye because I recently learned about St Edith's work on empathy while researching my thesis. It reads a bit, but not too much, like hagiography.
I hadn't realized what an accomplished philosopher she was - her work in academia seems remarkable to me, given the times.
I find much in this brief discussion of her work that I like, but I just cannot swallow her dual-nature anthropology (ie, men and women have distinctive natures); though I do see how it qualifies as a feminist stance given the times, and the Kinder, Küche, Kirche context in which she was working. I strongly suspect her work significantly influenced JPII's Theology of the Body (anybody know for sure?).
The subtitle was a bit premature -- Edith Stein was not canonized until 1998; but her story is certainly an inspiration. Her feastday is August 9th....more
Three and a half stars: interesting cultures and cultural interactions. Much of the text has a fantasy-feel to it because it takes place down on the iThree and a half stars: interesting cultures and cultural interactions. Much of the text has a fantasy-feel to it because it takes place down on the interdicted planet; the events that take place elsewhere feel in some ways incidental to the main plot, until the last book (The Law of Becoming) in which they are all much better integrated....more
Took this out of the Interfaith Library today and leafed through it. It's based on the work and words of Sr. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, whose book She WhoTook this out of the Interfaith Library today and leafed through it. It's based on the work and words of Sr. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, whose book She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse I read for my trinity course a few years ago.
The prayers tend towards the verbose and clunky to my ear, a bit reminiscent of the Blue Mountain Arts card style of poetry. But there are some beautiful images, and a broad array of themes strongly clustered around care for the poor, the oppressed, and the earth.
I did particularly like the versicle at the end of each prayer, which in line one, addressed God by a name from the prayer followed by three descriptive gerunds ending in freeing, and line two was always In you we live and move and have our being.
The line-drawing illustrations are a worthy complement to the prayers. I particularly liked the image of ruach, She-who-is blowing creation into being, and the image of God as a woman pouring out a jar of water onto the soil to sustain the growing grain....more