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Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard
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Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard

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4.65  ·  Rating details ·  20 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the leading thinkers of our era—a provocative sage who bypassed prevailing orthodoxies to offer a bold, sweeping vision of human nature, human history, and human destiny. His oeuvre, offering a “mimetic theory” of cultural origins and human behavior, inspired such writers as Milan Kundera and J. M. Coetzee, and earned him a place among th ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published April 1st 2018 by Michigan State University Press
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Andrew Marr
This biography is personal as the author knew and admired its subject during his last years. This keep the book from being and objective biography as the author is a participant. But then René Girard discovered the shortcomings of so-called objective truth, so such a biography is fitting. The readership, for the time being anyway, is also likely to be personal. Most readers are likely to have known Girard personally, as is my case, or have become interested in Girard's thought through someone wh ...more
James Murphy
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading Rene Girard can be intimidating. His works are complex, and he was prolific. Fortunately, in this new biography of Girard, Haven proves a reliable, critically sympathetic, and widely learned guide to his life and thought. While this is not an exposition of his works, Haven provides the framework of his thought, how it evolved, and how it changed, and as such provides an excellent grounding for taking on some of Girard's most compelling works, especially his late work, Battling to the End ...more
Michael Morrissey
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Few books in recent memory have given me as much pleasure as this intellectual biography of the literary theorist, René Girard. For those unfamiliar with the work of the great French thinker, this book will serve as a marvelous and captivating introduction. For those already acquainted with Girard’s works, much more will be gained. Haven’s biography draws heavily on Girard’s books, his published conversations with colleagues and friends, the secondary literature, and most importantly the author’ ...more
Paul
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cynthia Haven’s study of the life and work of Rene Girard is beautifully and thoughtfully written, scintillating and often moving, it is the fruit of thoughtful study and close friendship with the great man himself. Evolution of Desire illuminates this major thinker’s “unseen spiritual compass” (233) and convincingly emphasizes Girard’s recognition that “good mimesis” – the human imitation of Christ’s love -- offers a real exit from the vicious circle of envy. The reader comes away from the book ...more
Brad Kittle
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Phil Bodrock
Thank you for Evolution of Desire, your informed, intelligent, and sympathetic biography of René Girard. I hope that your book will motivate others to grapple with René's oeuvre and explore his thought.

I was a graduate student at Buffalo during René's time there and attended his seminars. He was on one of my doctoral committees. You've captured the essence of the good and gentle genius who supported and inspired so many of us.
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Cynthia L. Haven writes regularly for The Times Literary Supplement, and has also contributed to The New York Times, The Nation, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. She is also the author of several books, including volumes on Nobel poets Czeslaw Milosz and Joseph Brodsky.
“For Girard, however, literature is more than a record of historical truth, it is the archive of self-knowledge.” 0 likes
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