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Pensées and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008
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About the Author
Honor Levi is a teacher at St Leonard's School, St Andrew's, Fife. Anthony Levi is a retired Professor of French at St Andrews.
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First of all, this is a translation of a selection of the Pensées, not all of them. This could be either a pro or a con, depending on what you want. The selection, and the attractive presentation, definitely makes for an easier read, but it also obscures somewhat the chaotic nature of the original. The numbering is according to the Sellier edition only, and there is no concordance provided for other numbering systems.
I personally found the introduction verbose, with too much about the ins-and-outs of Jansenist disputes and a tendency to make pompous and debatable/wrong claims en passant (e.g. Montaigne's Essays "remain committedly Catholic but conservative and defensive, with a relativist core that has been mistaken for scepticism").
Besides the Pensées, there are extracts from the Discussion with M. de Sacy (only the things that Pascal himself says – why could the entirety of this short and strange text not have been included?), the Art of Persuasion, and some of Pascal's writings on grace (some not previously translated into English, I think).
The translation is OK, in places a little free ("esprit de géométrie" vs. "esprit de finesse" becomes "mathematical mind" vs. "intuitive mind").
One really bizarre downside of this edition is that all of the translations of Pascal's Latin biblical quotations are taken from the rather non-literal English Jerusalem Bible. Thus "fascinatio nugacitatis" (Wis. 4:12) becomes "the fascination of evil," which misses the point, while the crucial half-verse "vere tu es deus absconditus" (Isaiah 45:15) is rendered as "truly God is hidden within you," a New-Agey non-translation that makes nonsense of Pascal's idea.
BEING INTERESTED IN THE CONTROVERSY, HE GOES INTO THE QUESTIONS SURROUNDING PREDESTINATION AND JANSENISM AT MORE LENGTH; BUT THERE IS PLENTY HERE FOR ALL! EVEN AS IT STANDS, IT IS AN UNFINISHED MASTERPIECE! RQ
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coherent read.Read more