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Beauty: The Invisible Embrace Paperback – March 1, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the bestselling Anam Cara hits a lyrical mark again with this book that boldly takes up an eternal verity and ideal—beauty. O'Donohue's premise is urgent and sweeping: "Politics, religion, and economics and the institutions of family and community all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to awaken and invoke beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores." And so the author, who has a background in philosophy and has written about Hegel, seeks "intimations" and manifestations of beauty, finding it in music, color and movement, as well as some less likely locations—imperfection and death. Beauty is sensuous and present, but it is also always pointing to the transcendent. Its trail leads to the recognition of God, with O'Donohue quoting the novelist Dostoyevski—"Perhaps it is beauty that will save us in the end"—as well as medieval Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, whose thought he weaves through the book. O'Donohue writes like the poet he is ("Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather"), and he generously quotes from other poets across cultures and times. He also liberally draws into his circle of imagination the great philosophers of beauty, from Plato and Aquinas to contemporary German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. The resulting book is a lively and informed discussion among great minds—a digest of provocative views on an inexhaustible and compelling topic. This refreshing book falls like rain on the parched plain of contemporary discourse.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'A thinker who seamlessly weaves philosophy and theology, O'Donohue stops us in our tracks, reminding us that we might be alive for reasons other than productivity or consumption'" Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060957263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060957261
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My review of this book can be summed up with a single word: Wow! When I grabbed a copy of /Beauty/, I was expecting a preachy book about some glorified ideal of beauty that us mere mortals cannot attain. I'm happy to report I was proven quite wrong in that expectation.
/Beauty/ is a hard book to classify - it's not a philosophy book, it's not a religion book, it just... is. It's like hopping on a tourist bus and cruising down the road of the beautiful, with John O'Donohue pointing out the sights along the way. "To your left, you will see the beauty of light dancing across the sky at twilight. And to your right, the misty beams of sun's fading glory illuminating every crevice and boulder on the mountainside..." You're not outright told what beauty is, per se. You are simply guided through the process of understanding beauty as not merely a characteristic, but as a force. O'Donohue illuminates what beauty *does* and where you might find it.
This is a magical, wonderful book. It is written in a relaxed and almost lyrical style - as a book on the beautiful should be. True beauty cannot be described by the mere words of men, but John O'Donohue does an admirable job of opening us up to "the eternal grace and generosity of beauty's presence." That, in a nutshell, is what this book is all about.
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Format: Paperback
I discovered John O'Donohue this past year (see my review "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom") and have been working ever since to bring him to San Francisco's East Bay to speak and conduct a retreat. Unfortunately, as I was putting pen to paper to write my review of "The Invisible Embrace - Beauty," I learned he died in his sleep, January 3, 2008, on vacation near Avignon. He was just 53. O'Donohue was an original thinker, a gifted writer, and a philosopher that fully understood the human condition and emphasized the triumphal power of divine love.

"Beauty" outlines another encounter with the divine. The majesty of beauty is its gracious wholesomeness. The Beautiful unifies feeling, thought, and dream. The book "endeavors to mirror this one-ment." This acquaintance coaxes the soul to the land of wonder where the journey becomes a bright path between source and horizon, awakening and surrender.

O'Donohue begins "Beauty" with the the call of beauty; where it dwells; its music; its color; and the joy of its shapes. He then explores imagination (beauty's entrance), attraction (the eros of beauty), and the beauty of the flaw. He concludes with beauty's relationship to death and God.

"When we lose sight of beauty our struggle becomes tired and functional. When we expect and engage the Beautiful, a new fluency is set free within us and between us. The heart becomes rekindled and our lives brighten with unexpected courage."

The "cry of our times" is to awaken beauty as we feel most alive in the presence of beauty for it meets the needs of our soul. And once awakened, there is a great sense of homecoming as beauty is God. Love of the beautiful is a secret and sacred passion of all as it is embedded in our search for God.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD fills the very essence of my soul! As a Franciscan religious I appreciate the beauty and splendor of all of God's creation! John O'Donahue has captured the essence of the Franciscan Spirit! St. Francis called everything by the intimate name of "brother" and "sister"! As St. Francis says, "Put on new glasses" "adjust your focus" and you will see beauty all around you." With St. Francis we can all say "My God and My All"! Thank you and God bless you, Sister Rose Therese Di Gregorio OSF.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The very sad news is that there will be no more books by John O'Donohue because of his untimely death in January. The blessing is that we have a treasury of wisdom and elegance in his published writings and various recordings. We can still listen to his Irish lilt and laugh at his humor; we can still read his prose and poetry suffused with wisdom and caring. Beauty is a book which reminds us how we should look at the world around us, expectantly looking for signs of beauty to counter the other signs of neglect, pain, violence, dis-harmony. He takes us beneath the surface, urging us to troll the depths of our souls to find our beauty. Every sentence will call you to ponder more deeply and invite you to look anew at life.
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Format: Hardcover
Once again, O'Donahue delivers a treatise on the beauty of life, the beauty of living fully and the beauty of belief. This book is really a marvelous experience. The author challenges the reader to choose being awake, aware and available. I loved it.
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Format: Hardcover
Beauty: The invisible embrace is essentially a poetic and theological reflection on the beauty of the world, the universe, of life, and of God, using ideas from Christian tradition, theology, mysticism, and poetry.

The ideas in here are deeply Neo-Platonic and will be easily recognised by anyone who has read Plotinus (in a way this book unfolds the ideas in his work 'On Beauty) however they are also deeply tinged with O'Donahue's Celtic appreciation for the beauty of nature. It is perhaps not surprising Ireland has produced many great thinkers and poets who refreshingly don't see the world as a horrible place infected by sin, but rather a beautiful reflection of God's glory. The greatest Celtic philosopher, Eriugena, called the universe 'God's theophany.'

Indeed this book treats our world and our life as a theophany of divine beauty, to be celebrated at every moment despite its pain, vulnerability, and tragedy.
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