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Literature_ H-NET BOOK REVIEW Published by H-Catholic@h-net.msu.edu (July 2007) Robert P. Kennedy, Kim Paffenroth, and John Doody, eds. _Augustine and Literature_. Augustine in Conversation: Tradition and Innovation. Series editors John Doody and Kim Paffenroth. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006. vi + 414 pp. Notes, bibliography, indices. $85.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7391-0913-7; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7391-1384-4. Reviewed for H-Catholic by Kari Kloos, Department of Religious Studies, Regis University Reading Augustine Creatively The fifth-century North African bishop Augustine left to the West a vast body of work, writing in formative ways on political philosophy, psychology, society, history, and of course, theology. Yet for all this range, he did not write fiction or poetry. While as a boy Augustine delighted in reading Latin literature, and while his creative work of autobiography, _The Confessions_, virtually invented a new genre, Augustine cautioned his readers against giving too much of their attention to works intended to deceive or at least distract them from the state of their souls. Thus the latest volume in the Augustine in Conversation: Tradition and Innovation series takes up a problematic yet fruitful topic, namely Augustine's influence on literature. Following the volumes _Augustine and Liberal Education_ and _Augustine and Politics_, _Augustine and Literature_ explores what is admittedly a thorny area: how did Augustine influence something that he did not practice and of which he was critical? Its consideration yields rich and at times surprising results, demonstrating among the selected authors "a common concern that literature be attentive to the highest things, and the deepest journeys of the soul, even where those journeys may not actually arrive at what Augustine deemed the end point" (p. 6). Organized chronologically, the volume explores literature to the sixteenth century (Dante, _The Wanderer_, Shakespeare), seventeenth century (John Donne and George Herbert, François Fénelon, John Milton), nineteenth century (Henrik Ibsen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Christina Rossetti, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Arthur Rimbaud, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), and twentieth century (William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Rebecca West, and Ralph Ellison). This range of European and American literature includes authors who were directly influenced by Augustine (Dante, Milton, O'Connor), as well as those whose connections to Augustine are indirect and mediated through other authors (Faulkner, Ellison). As a result, the volume presents both rich analysis of clear connections between Augustine and literature, and creative and illuminating new connections. The volume is well conceived and generally meets its targeted audience well. Most of the essays balance analysis of literature and of Augustine's thought while clearly explaining key references, content, and ideas for a general audience. The most successful essays examine one particular aspect of Augustine's influence on an author or work. For example, Phillip Cary's essay on "The Weight of Love: Augustinian Metaphors of Movement in Dante's Souls" considers how Dante uses Augustinian metaphors of fire and light to make visible the movement of immaterial souls towards God through love. Standout essays on direct Augustinian influence include Cary's essay, Paul Contino on the patterns of descent and ascent in _The Brothers Karamazov_ (1880), Kim Paffenroth on feminine wisdom in Augustine and Goethe's _Faust_ (c. 1808), and Debra Romanick Baldwin on physicality and the rhetoric of the grotesque in Flannery O'Connor. The latter essay is particularly rich for demonstrating both O'Connor's development of Augustinian ideas and her divergence from him in embracing the more elusive, less transparent realm of fiction. All of these essays examined limited, fruitful topics in depth and complexity, yielding significant conclusions. Excellent essays showing indirect or at least less clearly acknowledged Augustinian influence include Eric Plumer on _Hamlet_ (c. 1603), Glenn Moulaison on Arthur Rimbaud, and Mark Schiffman on the "confessional ethics" of Ralph Ellison's _Invisible Man_ (1952). The latter two in particular demonstrate a depth of analysis that both respects the independence of the literature from Augustine and explores through contrast and similarity how Augustinian forms and themes are nevertheless present, thus overcoming the potential risk of a superficial link between their subject and Augustine. In some ways, these essays that demonstrate influence amid vivid and even shocking (in the case of Rimbaud) contrast are the most creatively illuminating in the collection. Certainly other essays are of fine quality as well; the ones mentioned here stand out for their depth of analysis, limited scope, illuminating argument, balanced treatment of Augustine and literature, and persuasive use of evidence. The main weaknesses in the collection lie in a few essays that only briefly or superficially engage Augustine, focusing almost entirely on the literary subject. The volume serves well scholars and teachers who wish to integrate two different disciplines in creative ways. As a whole it does not assume extensive familiarity with Augustine or literature (although more familiarity with the latter would help the reader), and it is accessible to a generally informed, intellectually curious reader. It is valuable for literary scholars seeking to understand a pervasive influence in literature, for historians studying the extent of Augustine's range of influence in the West, and for theological scholars who want to extend their facility, particularly by considering the creative, non-Augustinian realm of fiction and poetry. Note . Kim Paffenroth and Kevin L. Hughes, eds., _Augustine and Liberal Education_ (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2000); John Doody, _Augustine and Politics_ (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005). Copyright (c) 2007 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses contact the Reviews editorial staff: firstname.lastname@example.org.