I thought it strange that Pieper had written two short books on the Platonic dialogue Phaedrus, and indeed there were many sections that were exactly...moreI thought it strange that Pieper had written two short books on the Platonic dialogue Phaedrus, and indeed there were many sections that were exactly the same as in both books. This one in particular, though, took the entire dialogue with a bit more depth, while his other book focused on divine madness.
As always, I find Pieper's views interesting and at many times refreshing, though his reading of Plato, I think, is at one point in the book a bit off. Generally, though his discussion wasn't as illuminating as other books I've read about Plato (I thought about most of what was written while writing a paper myself), Pieper's discussion fit together a lot of singular ideas and constructed a cohesive whole that led me deeper along paths I had previously scouted.
Simply amazing. Probably the best book by CS Lewis I've ever read. And the most terrifying. I took particular interest in the book because of conversa...moreSimply amazing. Probably the best book by CS Lewis I've ever read. And the most terrifying. I took particular interest in the book because of conversations with my friend Cadmus in Japan, who was of the opinion that Instinct towards preserving the species is all that drives humanity in our lives (to sum up his general position). This book shows (and I believe proves) that such ideas, along with others that are similar or spring from it (such as that values are void and that traditional ideas must be cast aside for good) will bring about nothing but pain and, well, the "abolition" of our human selves and all that is meaningful to us as Humans.
A very, very interesting auto-biography. I came to this book knowing very little about Saint Therese and felt, at first, very distanced from her exper...moreA very, very interesting auto-biography. I came to this book knowing very little about Saint Therese and felt, at first, very distanced from her experiences and her faith. I thought that her fervor and her reliance on love and innocence was beautiful but was something that I did not see in my own life, and thus I began reading this book very much academically. But there are many sides to this text and towards the end (particularly after she became a nun) I found myself being drawn more and more to her thoughts, expression, and experiences. When I finally put the text down I was deeply moved. Saint Therese is not necessarily quotable (although I found a few really beautiful lines here and there) nor does she necessarily "give good advice", something to remember when things are dark and difficult. But the overall experience of reading her text was what brought me to a sort of solace and kindness. (less)
Pretty fantastic and amazing although potentially difficult for a reader who knows little of Chesterton and his time-period. This was my first encount...morePretty fantastic and amazing although potentially difficult for a reader who knows little of Chesterton and his time-period. This was my first encounter with Chesterton and I have to say that his writing is exactly what I imagined it to be: powerful, forceful and persuasive on account of its call to the spirit of the reader. And it's just this spirit that is so important to Chesterton's understanding of the human and human history. It was a joy to read someone whose humanism was not only the foundation of his thought but his style of argumentation as well. Often, though, I felt that Chesterton went too far in his arguments about non-Christians (and non-Catholics too), particularly in regards to his rather unfortunate opinions about Asia and other non-European groups. But, again, Chesterton needs to be read both in the reader's time and in his own time; not that his less-than-savory ideas should be readily accepted just because they were written in the 1920s but that they are understandable and *ought* to be understood. Chesterton has a lot to say and a lot of *important* things to say and I feel that it is a pity that his ideas are, at times, tossed out simply due to certain views. Chesterton has something that very few people nowadays have: hope in humanity and in the human spirit. It is refreshing, even in view of other dated ideas, to find someone to argue so passionately for the soul of humanity.(less)
A really rather amazing book although at first I found it rather mediocre. I was very much taken by John's yearning and his reasons for beginning his...moreA really rather amazing book although at first I found it rather mediocre. I was very much taken by John's yearning and his reasons for beginning his travels but I was not impressed with the first few sections of allegory. This may be because they were more heavily satirical than the later sections (which were more discursive), although this says more, perhaps, about my own dislike of satire than Lewis' work. At first I wondered whether Lewis' choice to make his conversion, experiences and concerns with "Sweet Desire" into allegory as I often found the "boundary" between true story and strict allegory crossed. But as the allegory went on it seemed that Lewis became more comfortable with the style and with what he wanted to say, particularly when Vertue spoke as well as in the house of Wisdom. What saved these beginning sections for me (besides the interest in John's quest) were the descriptive passages. These tended towards a sort of longing for the landscape that mirrored John's own experience with Sweet Desire and really worked to drive along the plot. As the allegory continued these issues began to disappear and although other cropped up (some of his descriptions of philosophy, even when not satire, were actually rather confusing) there grew a sort of raw power to Lewis' prose that I would liken to Perelandra and The Last Battle. Lewis does "edge of the world" really, really well and in the final chapters of the last section Lewis really shows his skill as an author.
Oh, and in regards to the illustrations by Howe: I did not enjoy them (the expressions on faces were really, really weird) and, for some reason, Howe decided to redraw Lewis' map. Why? There must be a reason but I doubt that it's good enough to explain why taking out something the author did and putting in the work of another is a good idea. (less)
Amazing, amazing, amazing. I wish I had read this book years ago, as I would be so much further along my life's path if I had. Amazing. The author get...moreAmazing, amazing, amazing. I wish I had read this book years ago, as I would be so much further along my life's path if I had. Amazing. The author gets a little fuddled here and there, but this does not take away from the book the depth and beauty about which Guissani is writing. The depth of the human person, the dignity of the human person, and the "adventure" of the human spirit, all discussed, and beautifully done so. If you have even the smallest inkling that there is something more than the material world, read this book. Otherwise, well, otherwise, open your eyes. Then read the book :)
Thanks Mike so much for giving this book to me!!!(less)
An interesting discussion though one that I think I would be better apt at following in its completeness if I actually had some bearing on the philoso...moreAn interesting discussion though one that I think I would be better apt at following in its completeness if I actually had some bearing on the philosophies that are under discussion. Not that Gilson doesn't do a good job in explaining things where things need to be explained (I rarely felt truly -lost-) but that it was written during a time when people generally studied these guys more. Still, the book has done what I set out to gain from it: a general understanding of some of the discussions had during the medieval period. And it comes with the added bonus of telling the reader to study the medieval period a bit more if they want to understand the modern period.(less)
An amazing book! Pieper is one of my favorite philosophers, and to read this rather long book of his on philosophy itself was a joy. I refrain from gi...moreAn amazing book! Pieper is one of my favorite philosophers, and to read this rather long book of his on philosophy itself was a joy. I refrain from giving it a five-star rating for two reason: first, Pieper, at times, repeats his thesis a bit too much. After the first two sections I felt that I was reading again and again the same thing, said only slightly differently. The second reason is a failing of my own, and that is that I didn't know as much as Pieper expects me to know about the history of philosophy and (at times) the Latin language. Some essays completely lost me and I felt I got little out of them because Pieper was talking over my head.
All in all, though, an very pure and knowledgeable view of the world. I love this book!(less)
Although I've never been much of a fan of "excerpt" books, I couldn't help myself with CS Lewis. The text, unfortunately, does nothing with referring...moreAlthough I've never been much of a fan of "excerpt" books, I couldn't help myself with CS Lewis. The text, unfortunately, does nothing with referring one to where these little bits of Lewis excerpted from, and thus I'm left to guess at what I'd like to read of his next (or again).(less)
A very interesting look at the future of humanity. Though Pieper could continue and further his thesis (and also include a bit of what he's arguing ag...moreA very interesting look at the future of humanity. Though Pieper could continue and further his thesis (and also include a bit of what he's arguing against), the discussion in Hope and History was deep and considerate to the reality of humanity (at least in my opinion it was). The intricacies of hope, especially in regards to death, I believe got to the heart of the problem. I'm always impressed with Pieper, even when I disagree with him, and I think this is one of his better books. The subject is a difficult one, and at times Pieper's line of reasoning and his arguments get somewhat muddled, but in the end what he has to say is enlightening and fascinating. (less)
An odd book. Williams seems to be stuck in the middle of attempting to describe the works of Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien while at the same time writ...moreAn odd book. Williams seems to be stuck in the middle of attempting to describe the works of Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien while at the same time writing about the human condition as seen from the Christian perspective. This gets him lost, at times, writing very simple descriptions of the plots and in explaining (at least to me) somewhat obvious meanings and metaphors. Perhaps that I've read almost all of the books (I've only not read Chesterton and am in the middle of That Hideous Strength) and maybe it's because I'm a student of literature, but I found Williams to, most of the time, write on things that I understood somewhat fully after giving the actual text a read once or twice. Saying that, at times Williams is very poetic (and I don't refer to his own poems that he intersperses between chapters) in his descriptions, particularly about Tolkien. Again, this may because I enjoy Tolkien's work more than Lewis' (again, I haven't read Chesterton). In the end, the book touched upon a lot of interesting ideas in a short space, but only described them instead of continuing them and taking them further. This probably wasn't the goal of the book, perhaps, but at times it seemed like Williams wanted to make it so.(less)
This collection includes poems, excerpts from letters, a morality play, and selections from visionary accounts by Hildegard of Bingen, who lived durin...moreThis collection includes poems, excerpts from letters, a morality play, and selections from visionary accounts by Hildegard of Bingen, who lived during the 12ts century. The selections are good (for all I know of Hildegard) and the translations comfortable and easy to read, though Butcher's method as she explains it leaves something to be desired. For one, she "cleans up" Hildegard's poems, taking out things that she feels are boring or unnecessary, claiming that they wouldn't be good for modern readers. Further, she tidies up her Latin in a similar way. I'm not a translator, and the little I know if it makes me wonder how poems could ever be translated, but over modernization of 1,000 year old poems makes me a little uncomfortable. Luckily Butcher doesn't use any modern idioms, though I wonder just how much she did change, since the originals aren't published alongside the translations. Also, though this isn't as big a deal, I would have liked more information on where each selection came from, as at times it seems that the author/editor collected Hildegard's works to put in this book based on what she liked, not caring much to reference where exactly they came from (though I only care because I read this book for academic reasons, perhaps not the author's original intention...).
In all, Butcher's presentation is made for those who want to slip into a medieval visionary woman's experience without much concern for particulars of scholarship. Thus it was easy to read though, for me, it was too east at times. Reading medieval texts doesn't have to be this comfy, though, again, it was a welcome read from the usually thick editions of most medieval texts.(less)
An odd little story, completely predictable, but well written. I've only read the "weird" tales of MacLeod (such as "The Washer at the Fjord," and thi...moreAn odd little story, completely predictable, but well written. I've only read the "weird" tales of MacLeod (such as "The Washer at the Fjord," and this one, with its happy ending, threw me off. I'm still not too sure what to make of it, but it was short and sweet.(less)
Very, very strange, and perhaps not in a good way. I've read this book before, but it was called "The Abolition of Man." Lewis attempts, it seems, to...moreVery, very strange, and perhaps not in a good way. I've read this book before, but it was called "The Abolition of Man." Lewis attempts, it seems, to make fiction out of the very well developed ideas in his essay, but the end result left me confused, wanting, and (surprisingly for me) rather put off.
To begin with something good, the writing of "That Hideous Strength" is very good. The problem I have is with his presentation of ideas and his story, both of which seem oddly undeveloped. This book is completely different from the other two in the series. At first I thought it was going to be an "adult" version of "The Last Battle" as the tone was creepy, unsettling, and mysterious. I never knew who was leading who, where the true evil was and how the main characters were going to deal with it. Unfortunately this continued throughout the entirety of the book and I was left wondering why most characters were in the story at all. I soon realized that the Belbury characters were only certain outcomes of his ideas in "The Abolition of Man" made into walking characters, much like the Head. In this way I assume Lewis wanted his ideas to look more realistic, but in the end I felt only the opposite. "The Abolition of Man" was a wonderful book and I agreed with almost every argument Lewis made, but turning the ideas into living, speaking characters only made those ideas seem like jokes. Most of the conversations, further, between the characters were nothing more than Lewis drawing on previous essays/books of his in a similar way. This normally would have been good save for Lewis' poor characterisation which led to them seeming flat and confused. This may also be a reason that many readers of Lewis point to this book as evidence of his sexism, as the arguments he puts forward for obedience and characteristics of genders is, again, poorly "argued" and spoken through characters for the sake of the idea, not for character or story development. Jane's transformation seemed to me to be only a whitewashing into a simple woman (something about wanting to be "fresh" instead of "interesting"), and a woman very similar to the others in the story, none of who I found very appealing as characters. The only characters who went through any real change or development seemed to be Mark and the fellow with the red beard (spoiler-hopefully those who read the book will know who I'm referring to). Mark unfortunately fell into the problem described above as being a mouthpiece for Lewis' ideas, though did seem human from time to time. The other character who developed I actually truly felt sorry for and actually liked. No one else (even Ransom!) did I feel was at all fully represented (or represented at all).
Thus I come away from the book very dissatisfied, wishing both that more had happened and that Lewis had taken less time trying to prove his points with flat characters. He was able to do this in both "Out of Silent Planet" and "Perelandra," but in "That Hideous Strength" he only succeeds in taking the reader through a rather anti-climactic journey.(less)