Chris's Reviews > Confessions

Confessions by Saint Augustine
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Sep 26, 10

bookshelves: 2010-reading-list, university-reading
Read in September, 2010

Augustine tells the story of his life up until his conversion to Catholicism (from Manachee beliefs) in this book which is considered by many to be one of the first true autobiographies of the western world.

We read this book for an English literature class in University, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. What I expected to be a slow, sluggish read weighed down by too many old religious references was... well, it was that. But in between the bible quotes you could get a glimpse of what his life was perhaps like before he joined the church, of what the time was like, and best of all, a glimpse of what seems like a brilliant mind behind the curtains of religion.

This is perhaps best seen in the last four chapters -- or books as they're referred to -- after his autobiographical story is effectively finished and he has gone on to discuss philosophy regarding such things as memory and time. Despite the fact that earlier in the book he speaks out against scholarly types who take pleasure in learning about and teaching about the world as "fornicating against god", he shows a great interest in such pursuits himself.

Unfortunately though, it IS bogged down with layer upon layer of bible reference (which will make it a difficult read for anyone unfamiliar with Christianity or at least judeo-christianity in general), and is thick with passages that mindlessly praise god without adding to the content of the book, or passages in which he belittles himself before god, again adding little valuable content. This lessens later on in the book, but remains an issue throughout.

I don't think I would recommend this to most people, whether or not Christian, but I might offer this as a recommendation to anyone interested in 5th century philosophy, who has sufficient background experience to understand all of what Augustine goes on about.
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