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Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature Paperback – June 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (June 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859316
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Widely regarded as the exclusive property of sophisticated skeptics, irony yields surprising treasures to a devout Christian. And in reclaiming irony as a mode of divine revelation, Esolen rehabilitates a body of Christian literature often reduced to deceptive illusions by modernist critics. In Shakespearean plays—for instance—in which au courant theorists see only the corrosive ironies of power politics, Esolen discovers a joyfully ironic perspective on how the rhythms of mere time resound with the harmonies of eternity. Similarly, while other readers see in Dostoevsky's probing fiction only the grim realities that compel any mature adult to reject God, Esolen discerns in the narratives of Alyosha Karamazov and Father Zossima the ironically superior wisdom of childlike faith. Christian irony likewise transforms the apparent contradictions of Spenser's erotic poetry into an astonishing affirmation of holy love. The artistry of Dante (Esolen's specialty), Hopkins, Herbert, and a dozen other authors likewise glows with new radiance as their ironies awaken readers to the hidden powers of God's grace. Even the ironies of pagan authors such as Virgil, Sophocles, and Lucretius look richer from a perspective of Christian faith that recognizes the redemptive influence of an Unnamed God. A bracing challenge to the orthodoxies of literary secularism. Christensen, Bryce
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College, is the editor and translator of the Modern Library edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He has published scholarly articles on Spenser, Shakespeare, Dante, and Tasso in various journals and is a senior editor and frequent contributor to Touchstone Magazine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Anthony Esolen (Professor of English, Providence College) presents Ironies of Earth: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature, a thoughtful examination of irony in Christian art and life. Ironies of time, power, and love are discussed, as are the insights and interpretations of classic authors: Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Mauriac, Milton, Herbert, Hopkins, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and the anonymous author of the medieval poem "Pearl", among others. Esolen seeks to reveal the qualities of irony that deserve more than simply being pointed out - irony has the potential to transform worldviews and even bring redemptive laughter. A scholarly scrutiny that dares to define the virtually indefinable.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Fincher on May 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first discovered this work hearing Esolen interviewed by Ken Myers. Esolen intrigued me enough to order his book right away!

This book is nourishing! Ironies of Faith is more than just about irony. It's about seeing human foibles for what they are and how goodness, truth, and beauty run to the rescue in unexpected ways. Esolen writes with a fine and enjoyable pen, with lovely turns of phrases and superb quotability.

I wish more writers had Esolen's way of seeing. His work is not disposable. It is more spiritual than most of the "spirituality" best-sellers. The Christian imagination would foster better conversation and a better world!

If you want to know what the Christian imagination really looks like, you'll find it here. I read it slowly as every page is littered with nuggets.

As an itinerant speaker and apologist, I treasure works like these that create a fountain of resource and a vision to walk into.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Buenoslibros.es on November 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One has to have the books commented here very fresh in mind, and also be on the same level of literary proficiency as the author, to be able to see the irony established between the secular classics and the biblical references or moral in question. If we take for granted that it is so, I assure you a most enjoyable reading time, because the tone is undestated, friendly, and the mood is calm, pensive.

On the other hand, if what I said above does not apply to you (as to me me), or you even haven't read most of the books reviewed here, then you will be lost, frustratingly lost.

The author had a really good idea in mind. The purpose was good. But it wouldn't have cost him much to introduce to us a little about the books and their authors. It's not that you have to summarize the whole story, but give us a hand here. Please.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kathrine on July 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on an article I read in Memoria Press' "The Classical Teacher." I really liked the article, but I'm struggling to read the book. Although I have a Master's degree, it is not in the Classics and I have not read most of the works that are discussed in this book. I find myself having to read and re-read each paragraph and I'm not sure I will be able to finish it without first reading some of the classical literature. If you haven't read much of what is referenced in the reviews, it might be best to read the works of literature to be discussed first and then buy this book. I just love the topic and I think it is a great book for anyone who is more well-read than I am. :) (Somebody let me know when "Ironies of Faith for Dummies" is released. Ha-ha.)
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