Desire and Delight: A New Reading of Augustine's Confessions


"Augustine's Confessions is one of the most powerfully evocative autobiographies of the Christian West. It recounts the complex experiences through which this formative theologian came to renounce the compulsive sexual practice of his youth, reinvesting his attention and affection in a disciplined spirituality. The Confessions is explicitly about desire, longing, passion - physical and spiritual - constantly both, and both most evidently when Augustine most intended to distinguish spiritual from physical. It is an erotic text, preoccupied with bodies, pleasures, and pains. It narrates Augustine's desperate attempt to get, and to keep, the greatest degree of pleasure. Even his conversion to Catholic Christianity is narrated as a seduction to continence, and the model of spirituality he articulated relied intimately and profoundly on his sexual experience. Desire and Delight explores the erotics of asceticism as described by Augustine, noticing the gendered foundation of his model of spiritual aspiration. Going beyond the tormented, self-conscious Augustine of conventional interpretations, one discovers in this book a man impelled by the eros that defines human beings as such: the pursuit up the scale of pleasures to the ultimate Pleasure. The pursuit is analyzed here in text, context, and subtext, with such intellectual and emotional engagement that the Confessions becomes a "text of pleasure.""--BOOK JACKET. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1992


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