Is anybody up for reading Crime and Punishment with me? If you don't have it, it's like $2 on Kindle.(which can be downloaded for free on your computer)
If people are reading, it would be great to have some other posts, questions, comments, analysis, of what you've encountered so far. Hope the reading is going well!
In the ensuing discussions on St. Augustine's Confessions, I will be working from Henry Chadwick's translation from Oxford World Classics. I believe it to be the best translation available both from a scholarly perspective (excellent introduction and commentary footnotes), and so it is the translation I most highly recommend. A close second is Maria Boulding's translation put out by New City Press in collaboration with the Augustinian Heritage Institute. If you have questions about other translations feel free to ask. I've read quite a few of them, and can offer my opinion as best as I am capable.
For a brief biographical sketch I would strongly recommend reading Chadwick's introduction. Just briefly, Augustine wrote Confessions between the years 397-399, beginning just a year after being made bishop of Hippo, an office he resisted greatly and did not want, but upon taking, found his Christian faith under attack by the Donatists, a schismatic group that once rather dominated the northern African region where Augustine lived. This book then is in part a response to those attacks, though clearly it turns out to be much more than that, as we will see.
Chadwick does a great job of pointing to the philosophical influences at work in Augustine's understanding of things. Of particular note is his Plotinian neoplatonism. I have access to the hard copy of the majority of the philosophical works that are referenced in Confessions (I took a course a few semesters ago called Augustine and Antiquity, where we began by reading those philosophical works mentioned in Confessions, then concluded with a reading of Confessions itself. Kind of the most awesome course I took at Villanova), and so when it seems appropriate I will offer some posts comparing what is written in those texts with what Augustine is saying, and I'll include block quotes of the original source material in order to faciliate discussion. One book mentioned, Cicero's Hortensius, is a lost text, though there are attempts to reconstruct it through sources that reference it.
While Chadwick and Boulding both offer excellent translations, it is important to note that no translation can really do justice to the literary quality of Augustine's writing. He is a master of wordplay, and most of the time that cannot come through very well in translation. From time to time I will post some examples of his Latin for those who wish to examine it and see a bit of his linguistic skill in action.
Even in translation, though, particularly with these two translations, his literary brilliance does shine through. It's important, however, not to get swept away in it. Our discussions will be most fruitful if they are geared towards cutting to the heart of what he is asking or what he is suggesting, so that we can examine his ideas critically. After reading this book maybe six or seven times now, I'm still working on really understanding him, and I've found it a very worthwhile venture. I don't expect everyone to share my passion for this particular literary work, but I hope the discussions prove fruitful and enjoyable nonetheless.
Finally, a word about reading timetables. Confessions is divided into thirteen books. The first nine are autobiographical, the final four are more philosophical and theological in nature, though are highly relevant to the first nine, and are fascinating in their own right, and in some cases rather progressive for the 4th century. I think it would be important, both considering people's schedules as well as the density of the writing, to take this slow. However, I have a limited amount of time where I can really contribute, as I am leaving for my novitiate with the Augustinians on August 13, and I will be spending a good amount of time with my family preceding my departure. So what I propose is this: I will post my own commentaries on the books at a more accelerated pace, so that hopefully I can offer some guidance to discussion on all 13 books. I will post all of my discussions under lj cuts, though, so that people can go back and reference them at their own pace. As for an actual reading schedule, I would propose generally taking a book per week for the first nine books, and then maybe two books every three weeks for the final four. So that would total a 15 week reading schedule. That is just a suggestion, of course. For now, let's begin Book I. Tomorrow I will post commentary on it, and I will continue to do so over the next three to four weeks, when I hope to finish. Happy reading!!!
[ETA: Sorry about any confusing with my user name here. Just go to my journal and you'll see an explanation. Basically, I made a REALLY stupid mistake and messed up my livejournal].
I know the community didn't stay so hot after its opening, and that's largely my fault, since this was always my pet project. But I promised vonheston that before I leave for the novitiate on August 13 that we would begin a discussion here on St. Augustine's Confessions, and so I'm wondering if anyone is interested?
What I'd like to propose is that we take the reading group out of the reading group. That is, I think this community would work better with a bit more anarchy and a little less macro-focus. Are you currently reading Oscar Wilde's the Picture of Dorian Gray on your own and want to share your thoughts? That's what this community should be for. Do you want to take on Murasaki Shikibu's the Tale of Genji but wonder if anyone else would like to tackle that kind of project with you? You could find one or two, if not more, people here who'd be up for that! On a much larger scale, we could have Books of the Month which reflect what we originally wanted to do with the Brothers Karamazov, to keep us all on our toes.
To restate the point, if this community is to work--and maybe it won't, but I think the idea at least has promise-- the key, I think, is to make the focus more individual and less collective. Maybe I'd like to talk about the Diary of a Young Girl (which I am supposed to be reading but, again, bad habits die hard) but don't want to wait until everyone decides they want a reading group, and then gets up to the point I'm at. I personally want to read everyone's thoughts on the Brothers Karamazov, even though I stopped reading a while ago. Naturally, spoilers should be marked somehow, I think we can manage that.
I dunno, just my thoughts. Also, Happy Halloween everyone!
Do you agree or disagree with his assessment? Why or why not?
(PS: Please let us know how far you are into the novel. I think we're all over the place. I'm only in Book IV.)
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