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Violence and the Sacred

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  761 ratings  ·  58 reviews
His fascinating and ambitious book provides a fully developed theory of violence as the 'heart and secret soul' of the sacred. Girard's fertile, combative mind links myth to prophetic writing, primitive religions to classical tragedy.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 1st 1979 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1972)
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 ·  761 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In the 1972 work, Violence and the Sacred, the French literary critic Rene Girard undertakes a “scientific” exploration of the dual aspect of sacrifice, attempting to resolve the contradiction articulated in the work of Henri Hubert and Marcel Maus: “Because the victim is sacred, it is criminal to kill him- but the victim is only sacred because he is to be killed.” The results of this inquiry yield, according to the author, the origins of all religion and culture.
At the core of Girard’s theory
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Che fai tu, dormitore?

“Presto, in nome degli dèi, nascondetemi da qualche parte lontano da qui: uccidetemi o gettatemi in mare in un punto dove non mi vediate mai”. Sofocle, Edipo Re

Che cos'è il sacro? Secondo René Girard, è ciò che domina l'uomo tanto quanto egli si creda capace di dominarlo. La sua origine risiede in un evento primordiale, taciuto e ripetuto, attraverso il misconoscimento e il sacrificio rituale. La violenza reciproca porta l'essere umano sulla soglia di una crisi sacrificale,
Ambitious, bizarre, compelling conjecture. Introduces his theories of mimetic desire - how desire comes from copy others - and the role of sacrifice as a sort of sanctioned violence involving scapegoats, with the latter being a sort of chronic problem inherent in human society.

Girard's examples are taken from literature and a smattering of anthropological studies - not nearly empirical enough for my tastes, but at least an interesting tool for literary analysis.

-How does Girard's own religious
Girard's is a hugely ambitious project: a sort of grand-theory-of-everything, a prodigal son to psychoanalysis, bent on criticising mercilessly the Freudian project, while pursuing an essentially similar goal with, according to the author, a much more rigorous analysis. Despite such scope, the book stands out by its clarity and its careful (and elegant) avoidance of unnecessary jargon – the paperback in fact became my companion in the public transport, a place generally reserved to works of fict ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ο καλύτερος τρόπος για να διατηρούμε μια στάση αναστοχασμού και σύνθεσης μέσα στην συνεχή ροή της βιβλιοπαραγωγής και τον καταιγισμό ιδεών της εποχής μας, είναι να διαβάζουμε τα κρίσιμα κείμενα στοχαστών που αποκαλύπτουν το νόημα της πραγματικότητας.

Ο Ρενέ Ζιράρ είναι ένας από αυτούς τους στοχαστές και αυτό το μικρό βιβλιαράκι που περιλαμβάνει μια μικρή διάλεξη του για τη βία και τη θρησκεία, δύο συνεντεύξεις και μια πολύ κατατοπιστική εισαγωγή πάνω στο έργο του από τον μεταφραστή Αντώνη Καλαϊτζ
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب بعيد عن اي تصور مسبق لنهايه الكلام فيبدأ رينيه في رسم صوره للاجرام المقدس بدراسه الشعوب الرعويه ثم ينتقل الي محاكاه هذا التحليل من خلال الادب وخصوصا اوديب الذي يضفي عليه اهميه امتلاكه الي الكثير من الامراض السيكولوجيه ونظريات فرويد التي تتضمن عقدة اوديب وكتابه الطوطم والحرام، وبالحديث عن الرغبه التي كثير مايجعلونها معروفه بالنسبه للانسان ولكنه في حقيقه الامر لايفطن اليها حتي بعد ان يحقق جميع احتياجاته لان الرغبه كيان لايشعر بها الانسان الا عندما يراها ملك غيره، كما يتحدث عن الشذوذ الذي يص ...more
Lee Foust
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I love reading anthropology! Just when I get caught up in the endless facebook stream of arguments and memes--religion, politics, TV, and corporate-controlled and produced mass culture--I step back into a culturally removed, dispassionate space and compare my culture to ancient Greece, or the Bushmen, or some tribe in Borneo and understand how silly and deadly serious are our bizarre choices manifest as cultural institutions. Perspective is everything. So refreshing.

Girard's arguments he
миметический эффект и миметическая теория в деталях.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I asked Santa for this book in Christmastide 2015, and in April 2018 I finally started it. I had to make sure I was old enough for 'the incest talk'.

Long, sprawling, repetitive: it’s sometimes frustrating wading through this book, but when it’s hot it’s hot. There's no lack of lucidity in Girard’s prose—it’s elegant, clean, and eschews the laughable patois of that other shat-pack that wants to conflate Oedipus with psychoanalysis and anthropology—but how many chapters are necessary for G. to res
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a remarkable achievement by Girard. He has managed to provide a context and framework by which to understand sacrifice, so closely related linguistically to "sacred", and the violence that accompanies it-and their role in society.

Anyone terrorized as a child by the 1969 Encyclopedia Britannica film "The Lottery", based on a short story by Shirley Jackson, will understand the undercurrent of Girard's book. He holds that violence has been ritualized by society, and that it can serve
Ciprian Sandu
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: girard
Maybe the best book of Rene Girard. It should be read as a book of philosophy, its vast ambitions taken into account.

I feel that a comment on the pertinent (but in my opinion symptomatic) review made by Fatima has its place here (read that review first).

The idea that Girard, or anybody, may be above all criticism, that one can put oneself above that, is not true, and too seductive by its own right. (The Fatima's text ends with some criticism - as it should - isn’t’ it?)
This kind of crit
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I had just been attacked by demons, my life was spinning around, so I decided to go back to temple. I had spent years challenging the buddhist beliefs I was raised in, but it seemed the right choice. At the same time I was reading this book I began to hear from the lama of our temple words that I had previously only heard in Christian/Catholic doctrine and churches and twelve step programs. The combination of renewed disillussionment with the buddhist temple and the revelation of this book trans ...more
Miguel Soto
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¿Cuál es el papel de la violencia en las sociedades? Como otros han hecoh antes que él, Girard le atribuye un papel constitutivo, pero con una agudeza increíble va mucho más allá de las nociones intelectuales comunes de ese papel central de la violencia - nos cuenta, retomando los trabajos de autores como Frazer y Freud, en qué se equivocaron ellos, o más bien, en qué quedaron atascados, y nos demuestra que sus tesis no están erradas sino mal sostenidas: en efecto, la violencia es lo que funda l ...more
In a highly innovative book that studies the mechanisms and structures behind violence, Girard's Violence and the Sacred presents his unique insights into violence in literature and society.

From the bible to Oedipus Rex to various indigenous tribes throughout the world, Girard attempts to cover all bases in his arguments. He finds interesting psychological sources for the various sacrifices of humankind, talks of the victim and the scapegoat, and analyzes the way humans fight, block, and stop v
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Original Review: I read two of the sections from this book for a class. I would like to read the rst of i someday, because Girard has some very interesting ideas about the role of violence in the genesis of myth.

Updated Review: Well, I feel like three chapters really have the main meat of this argument for me, while the others develop and explore the ideas laid out most clearly and directly in "The Sacrificial Crisis," "Oedipus and the Surrogate Victim," and "From Mimetic Desire to the Monstrous
Anatoly v01
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Плот-твист: насилие и священное - это одно и то же, у греков даже слово одно было.

В первый раз услышал о книге из "Школы Злословия" с переводчиком обеих (главных) книг Жирара на русский, Дашевским

Пожалуй лучшая книга, которую можно прочесть после Владимира Проппа и Мирче Элиаде.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books of our time. IF you have not yet discovered Rene Girard you will be amazed. He is not an easy read; however there is an excellent synopsis of his theory - Discovering Girard by Michael Kirwan - that I have found very useful.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant essay!
أحمد  الكلابي
من أهم الكتب التي طالعتها ورسخت في مخيلتي
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Girard is a thoughtful, precise and lucid theorist, but he is also hubristically convinced that his theory explains everything human beings do, say and think. To doubt his theory is to lapse into myth and thus to be taken for a ride by the religiosity which he dissects at length. In this way Girard is reminiscent of Nietzsche (whom he refers to on occasion; mostly critically) although the former is certainly convinced of the objective reality of language and of the scientificity (horrible word, ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having somewhat familiarized myself with Girard's thought before reading this book, I can understand, having now read it, why it's still a piece of the beginning of his theoretical development. That's not intended to distract from its status as a "ground breaking" book.

In the final chapter and conclusion, Girard finally and clearly comes out with a plain, classic, intelligible thesis statement (or two, or three):

"There is a unity that underlies not only all mythologies and rituals but the whol
Simona Moschini
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antropologia
Alcuni capitoli (tipo quello sullo strutturalismo) dovevano essere scritti in assiro, perché non ci ho capito niente.
Altri sono affrontabili e, quando si è entrati in argomento, decisamente affascinanti. E sempre attuali.
Juan Dejo
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great synthesis fo all the consquences of the mimetic theory through the analysis of violence in sacred practices.
Austin Mitchell
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Here's a good Easter weekend read. What is sacrifice for? Why has every cultural tradition in history indulged the concept of sacrifice? Rene Girard has a compelling answer.
Robert Melo
Sep 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Não cumpriu com as expectativas.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this read. It's very well written and the philosophy is well explained.
Molto carino dai, ha offerto un modello interessante e sicuramente attuale.
Mauricio Ospina
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En este libro René Girard encontró el significado y la función del monolito de 2001: una odisea en el espacio.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
"Nature creates similarities. One need only think of mimicry. The highest capacity for producing similarities, however, is man’s. His gift of seeing resemblances is nothing other than a rudiment of the powerful compulsion in former times to become and behave like something else. Perhaps there is none of his higher functions in which his mimetic faculty does not play a decisive role." --- Walter Benjamin, "On the Mimetic Faculty" 1933
In most cases, mimesis is defined as having two primary meaning
Joel Aguilar
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
René Girard, one of the brilliant minds of our times enters into the heart of archaic religion. For Girard the sacred contains violence, and violence is sacred in itself as the foundation of archaic religion. Violence, however, has a hidden mechanism that makes it work as "peaceful" force. This mechanism is the scapegoating process that comes as a result of mimetic violence and the contagion of violence of all against one. In conversation with Freud's psychoanalysis and Levi-Strauss structuralis ...more
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René Girard is a French-born American historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science whose work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy.

He was born in the southern French city of Avignon on Christmas day in 1923. Between 1943 and 1947, he studied in Paris at the École des Chartres, an institution for the training of archivists and historians, where he specialized in m
“The goal of religious thinking is exactly the same as that of technological research -- namely, practical action. Whenever man is truly concerned with obtaining concrete results, whenever he is hard pressed by reality, he abandons abstract speculation and reverts to a mode of response that becomes increasingly cautious and conservative as the forces he hopes to subdue, or at least to outrun, draw ever nearer.” 29 likes
“Religion, then, is far from "useless." It humanizes violence; it protects man from his own violence by taking it out of his hands, transforming it into a transcendent and ever-present danger to be kept in check by the appropriate rites appropriately observed and by a modest and prudent demeanor. Religious misinterpretation is a truly constructive force, for it purges man of the suspicions that would poison his existence if he were to remain conscious of the crisis as it actually took place.

To think religiously is to envision the city's destiny in terms of that violence whose mastery over man increases as man believes he has gained mastery over it. To think religiously (in the primitive sense) is to see violence as something superhuman, to be kept always at a distance and ultimately renounced. When the fearful adoration of this power begins to diminish and all distinctions begin to disappear, the ritual sacrifices lose their force; their potency is not longer recognized by the entire community. Each member tries to correct the situation individually, and none succeeds. The withering away of the transcendental influence means that there is no longer the slightest difference between a desire to save the city and unbridled ambition, between genuine piety and the desire to claim divine status for oneself. Everyone looks on a rival enterprise as evidence of blasphemous designs. Men set to quarreling about the gods, and their skepticism leads to a new sacrificial crisis that will appear - retrospectively, in the light of a new manifestation of unanimous violence - as a new act of divine intervention and divine revenge.

Men would not be able to shake loose the violence between them, to make of it a separate entity both sovereign and redemptory, without the surrogate victim. Also, violence itself offers a sort of respite, the fresh beginning of a cycle of ritual after a cycle of violence. Violence will come to an end only after it has had the last word and that word has been accepted as divine. The meaning of this word must remain hidden, the mechanism of unanimity remain concealed. For religion protects man as long as its ultimate foundations are not revealed. To drive the monster from its secret lair is to risk loosing it on mankind. To remove men's ignorance is only to risk exposing them to an even greater peril. The only barrier against human violence is raised on misconception. In fact, the sacrificial crisis is simply another form of that knowledge which grows grater as the reciprocal violence grows more intense but which never leads to the whole truth. It is the knowledge of violence, along with the violence itself, that the act of expulsion succeeds in shunting outside the realm of consciousness. From the very fact that it belies the overt mythological messages, tragic drama opens a vast abyss before the poet; but he always draws back at the last moment. He is exposed to a form of hubris more dangerous than any contracted by his characters; it has to do with a truth that is felt to be infinitely destructive, even if it is not fully understood - and its destructiveness is as obvious to ancient religious thought as it is to modern philosophers. Thus we are dealing with an interdiction that still applies to ourselves and that modern thought has not yet invalidated. The fact that this secret has been subjected to exceptional pressure in the play [Bacchae] must prompt the following lines:

May our thoughts never aspire to anything higher than laws! What does it cost man to acknowledge the full sovereignty of the gods? That which has always been held as true owes its strength to Nature.”
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