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Afterlives of the Saints Hardcover – June 12, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609530721
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609530723
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Colin Dickey is the author of Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lapham's Quarterly, Cabinet, TriQuarterly, and The Santa Monica Review. He is also coeditor (with Nicole Antebi and Robby Herbst) of Failure! Experiments in Aesthetic and Social Practices.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edith Piaff on June 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dickey's "Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith" indeed takes us to the ends, the furthermost fringes of what it means to be human, to be flesh. A stunningly Baroque tapestry of the history of peculiar and unstable saints woven through the obsessions of art history and literature. A phenomenally beautiful read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank A. Montesonti on August 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Colin Dickey's Afterlives of the Saints is not a book not so much about the Saints lives, but the Saints continuing lives as symbols, and the surprising ways we find to use and misuse those symbols, from the dark humor of St. Lawrence becoming the patron saint of barbeques, to the surprising history of paintings of St. Sebastian as erotic art. Intellectually the book explores the shaky and shady properties of symbol, but the enjoyment of the book is in its very impressive research that draws connections between different time periods, of how it highlights human folly, cruelty, absurdity, and genius. Each chapter stands on its own and adds to the exploration of the larger ideas in the book. The book spans so many disciplines that I think most anyone would enjoy it. I recommend the book highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marie Doughty on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a long form history of the saints, this is perhaps not the book for you. The author isn't trying to give an exhaustive academic review.

Instead the book is more a meditation on selected saints. Each short essay has a theme, some ridiculous and interesting facts, loads of cultural and literary allusions, and a meditation on life and death. If you like interdisciplinary work (which I absolutely do) than you will enjoy this. There is history and philosophy and religion, but it's lighthearted and educational and not at all self indulgent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Severson on November 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A couple years ago I hosted a small group at my house with some friends. We decided to study a classic Christian text called The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks which has organized short stories and sayings from monks by topic such as Greed, Pride, Lust, etc. At the beginning of each group we'd struggle to articulate how utterly backwards we found these holy desert fathers. Their stories seem to advocate extreme, dangerous even, forms of Christian asceticism that no good pastor would recommend. So should we treat this book which is treasured by the church? Were we being exposed to how weak and pathetic our American Christianity had become? Or was there another purpose in reading these stories?

In retrospect, it would have served us all well to have read Colin Dickey's Afterlives of the Saints as a primer. Dickey frames the saints as something to be wondered at. Their example should not inspire us to follow them. But it will certainly shock us into evaluating our lives with new urgency. Dickey writes, "The saints...are there to show us how to be human being by showing what we could never be."

For Dickey, reflection upon the saints is an act of memento mori (remember your death). Classically memento mori is represented in art by a man or woman contemplating a human skull. Dickey writes, "The tradition of memento mori is self-reflexive: One is meant to meditate not on the death of the skull's owner but on one's own death--the skull before the viewer is always and only the viewer's skull." This is the posture we have before the saints. The death they provide is their own, often self-inflicted, destruction of their desires and bodies. But the focus always slips away from them and back to us.
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