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Confessions (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 30, 1961

4.3 out of 5 stars 496 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Wills] renders Augustine's famous and influential text in direct language with all the spirited wordplay and poetic strength intact."
-Los Angeles Times

"[Wills's] translations . . . are meant to bring Augustine straight into our own minds; and they succeed. Well-known passages, over which my eyes have often gazed, spring to life again from Wills's pages."
-Peter Brown, The New York Review of Books

"Augustine flourishes in Wills's hand."
-James Wood

"A masterful synthesis of classical philosophy and scriptural erudition."
-Chicago Tribune

About the Author

St Augustine of Hippo, the great Doctor of the Latin Church, was born at Thagaste in North Africa, in A.D. 354. He was brought up as a Christian but he was soon converted to the Manichean religion. He also came under the influence of Neoplatonism. However, in 387 he renounced all his unorthodox beliefs and was baptised. His surviving works had a great influence on Christian theology and the psychology and political theology of the West.

R.S. Pine-Coffin is a Roman Catholic and was born in 1917.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Impression edition (November 30, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044114X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441147
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (496 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Translation by Rex Warner (in Signet Classics)

This one is a very good translation, especially for the modern reader. It conveys the immediacy and vividness of a text written more than 1500 years ago. One feels almost as a voyeur peeping into the private confession of a man to his God. The honesty and unembarrassed disclosure of his sins, and fruitless search for worldly wisdom, is something we can personally identify with, even today. It is amazing how vivid the description of life in late 4th century is in this Confessions. What a wonderful way to approach History, places like Carthage, Rome or Milan, thru the eyes of a skilled and intelligent man who pours his heart on these pages for us to benefit from.

St. Augustine's life, however distant in time, is filled with events, desires, and troubles, as common today as in the year 400. We can identify fully with him, and in his longing and weakness we can see our own soul portrayed. He talks about his childhood, his family, his studies and his lifelong pursuit of wisdom and truth, specially since the age of 19. We get immersed in the daily life of people in the 4th Century under the Roman Empire, their daily worries, their intellectual debates, their religious confrontations. We see the social conditions of all classes of people, from the wealthy and idle to the slaves who fight in the Circus. We see people living, talking, traveling, dreaming, and going about their business as if we were present with them. No wonder this book is an authentic classic, one that I should have read long ago.

There are many reasons to read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the Carolinne White translation of the "Confessions," also carried by Amazon, this paperback does not have the complete original text. Rather, some of the ideas have been selected out by someone and are here rephrased into more contemporary language. That's OK, but anyone buying this book ought to know that this version is an abridgement and not the full text of the "Confessions" that they're buying.
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Format: Paperback
St. Augustine is one of the greatest thinkers the West ever produced. Born in North Africa in the waning years of the Roman Empire, his Confessions detail his ultimate conversion to Nicene Christianity after a ten year journey through the various trendy sects of the 4th century C.E. Augustine was a member of the Manichean heresy, a follower of Astrology, and an all around sinner. He enjoyed the barbaric games of the coliseum, was overly proud of his education and teaching positions, and just couldn't bring himself to give up the ladies. He even had a son, Adeodatus, who was born out of wedlock. In short, Augustine loved the things that most people love, and he loved the same things that we love in our decadent age. This is what makes this book so relevant today; it shows how little the human race has come in 1500 years. Augustine's struggles are our struggles.
Two points of interest are worth mentioning here. The first is Augustine's mother, St. Monica. Throughout the book, Monica is an omnipresent figure in Augustine's life. She is a tireless Christian, and she does many things to try and bring Augustine into the faith. She prays incessantly, has visions and dreams from God that promise Augustine's conversion, and she follows her son everywhere he goes. Augustine gives much praise to his mother, but it's important to remember that he was writing this account after his conversion. At the time, Augustine must have been sick to death of some of her antics. He actually lied to her so he could sneak off to Rome without her, although she was soon on a boat so she could catch up with him. I also felt sorry for his father, Patricius. Dad wasn't really into the Christian thing, so Monica put on the pants in the family. Augustine even says that Monica made God the 'true' father in their house.
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Format: Hardcover
I won't recount all the excellent reasons for reading this remarkable book. It's not a part of the Western Canon for nothing! It's a seminal work (autobiography) in a seminal field (Patristics)worth reading regardless of religious orientation, including none. What makes THIS particular version so exciting is that it is eminently readable and still quite stylized. Chadwick's eloquent translation caputes not only Augustine's ideas and thoughts, but equally important, his rhetorical skills. This alone justifies the purchase of this work. The philosophical nuances that, ironically, have entered twentieth-century thought again are very clearly articulated in Chadwick's translation. Other translations are likely to obfusicate what Chadwick elucidates. Read this great work by a great translator. I am confident you'll return to it again and again (even if you disagree with the Doctor).
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Format: Hardcover
Augustine's 'Confessions' is among the most important books ever written. One of the first autobiographical works in the modern sense, it also represents the first time a psychological and theological enterprise were combined. It also helps to bridge the gap between the Classical world and the Medieval world, exhibiting strong elements identifying with each of those major historical periods.

Most undergraduates in the liberal arts encounter the book at some point; all seminarians do (or should!). Many adults find (or rediscover) the book later, after school. For many in these categories, there are concepts, narrative strands and historical data new and unusual for them. However, Augustine's 'Confessions' is still generally more accessible in many ways that truly classical pieces; it has interior description as well as external reporting that we are familiar with in modern writing.

The 'Confessions' shows Augustine's personality well - he was a passionate person, but his focus wavered for much of his life until finally settling upon Christianity and the Neoplatonic synthesis with this faith. Even while remaining a passionate Christian and rejecting the sort of dualism present in the Manichee teachings, he varied between various positions within these systems. Augustine's varied thought reaches through many denominational and scholarly paradigms.

The 'Confessions' are divided into thirteen chapters, termed 'Books' - the first ten of the books are autobiographical, with Augustine describing both events in his life as well as his philosophical and religious wanderings during the course of his life. The text is somewhat difficult to take at times, as this is writing with a purpose, as indeed most autobiographies are.
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