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Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World Paperback – June 1, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A necessary companion piece to Violence and the Sacred for those interested in Girard's grand theory of society and human nature. . . . Girard expounds his vision of the foundational place of mimesis, violence, and scapegoating for all human cultures. . . . More forcefully stated here than elsewhere is Girard's conviction that his thesis is merely an uncovering of the message heretofore buried in the Christian scriptures."—Virginia Quarterly Review

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 470 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1st edition (June 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804722153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804722155
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Jacques Durand (micjac@pacbell.net) on February 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
It has been now about 20 years since I first read the original version of this fascinating work, as it was published in France. Reading it again today I still have the same feeling of witnessing a major breakthrough in our understanding of thelink between human nature, civilization and religion, a landmark of the highest caliber. Only now can I detect its influence in the French intellectual establishment - the 70s being not very favorable to a work that sheds an unexpectedly new and enhancing light on Christianity (yet certainly more unsettling for the religious establishment, I believe.) As a scientific, I was striken at first by the simplicity and the precision of the mimetic theory and its startling ramifications into the phenomenons of victimization mechanisms, sacralization, religion and foundations of civilization - all of it displaying a clarity and logic that I was more accustomed to find in "hard" sciences, I must say... I advise newcomers to Girard to start with this book which is the most synthetic. A must read for all modern westerners.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on August 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book takes the form of a dialogue between Girard and two psychiatrists, Jean-Michel Oughourlian and Guy Defort. If you are already familiar with Girard's work concerning the relationship between mimetic desire and violence, sacrificial rites and scapegoat, then you will find this book indispensible. If you have an opinion -- pro or con -- about Christianity, you will want to read this book. The title of the book is a quote from Mathew 13, 35, and not without purpose. Here, Girard discusses in depth the nature of Christianity, the most sacrificial religion, in terms of the theories he's been formulating over the years. The whole business of murder and deification permeates much of primitive Mediterranean religions -- Abel and Cain, Romulus and Remus, etc -- and the sacrifice of Christ and subsequent deification follows the same pattern of displacing mob guilt. Biblical exegesis, certainly, but much more than that. This book and Girard's work as a whole helps one to understand above and beyond the question of either sentiment or faith why Christianity as a religion still holds sway in this secular age, and from where it derives its staying power. A real milestone in intellectual detective work, it will cause you to hear a wake-up call. And in stereo, too, if you read also his good friend Michel Serres' book ROME: The Book of Foundations.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Tuck Newport on June 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Girard was a contemporary and colleague of the early deconstructionists, a French intellectual and professor of literature whose fascination with Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Proust and Shakespeare led him to approach texts as though they demonstrate the dynamics underlying human behavior. This is, of course, the antithesis of the deconstructionist perspective that literary texts are self-referential rather than tools for understanding external reality. Girard has spent the intervening half century exploring anthropology, sociology, psychology, history and religion through the lens of textual analysis, with astonishing results. It is one of the ironies with which history is replete that methods intended to deconstruct literature have been put to use by Girard to give it new, and powerful relevance. This book, and the rest of his work, will change the way you view the world. The more widely you have read, the more profoundly it will inform you.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Myers - Writing at RedeemingGod on April 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I continue to research and write about the violence of God in the Old Testament, a reader of my blog told me to read Girard. So I bought most of his books and am working through them in the order in which they were written.

I really think Girard is on to something with his theory of mimetic rivalry. However, Girard is not easy reading. Maybe it is the translation from French that is the problem.

Regardless, if you can wade through all the technical stuff of the first 150 pages, the last 150 pages of this book are quite insightful and helpful for understanding how violence occurs and what God is doing about it in Jesus Christ.

However, since the book is so difficult to read, I only recommend it for those who like reading about psychology and cultural anthropology. Some of Girard's other books (or books that have spawned from his thesis) would be better suited for the average reader who wants to understand Girard's mimetic theory.
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