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Beginning the World Paperback – 12 Oct 1984

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New edition edition (12 Oct. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330284096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330284097
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
In 'The Spiral Staircase', Armstrong tried to repudiate this account of her first years out of the nunnery, calling it 'the worst book I ever wrote', but by then she wanted to create a new image of herself. 'Beginning the World' is altogether more honest. She is frank about her anorexia, she admits to self-harm, she accepts that her suicide attempt was genuine, she gives credit to her psychiatrist - actually more a psychotherapist - for analysing the roots of her self-loathing, and she does not try to make it look as if her late-diagnosed epilepsy explained most of the peculiarities of her behaviour. Above all she tells frankly of her love affair with Guy, an alcoholic poet, a sort of Tennyson 'look-alike', who taught her to enjoy sex and to accept her body. He disappears in the later book, no doubt ill befitting her new-found role as scholar of religion and prophetess of compassion. If you are interested in Karen Armstrong, this is the book to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very frank and candid autobiography. It is a sequel to the author's "Through the narrow gate". I understand that Ms Armstrong's honesty and identification of key figures in her post convent life caused this book to be withdrawn from circulation. This book was replaced by "The spiral staircase."
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Format: Paperback
I thought I might feel a bit disloyal reading it as Karen had disavowed it in favour of the Spiral Staircase, but having read the rest of her writings I was interested for the sake of completeness. In fact it is well written and amplifies some of what is said in Spiral Staircase, although as she says in the latter book, it ends just as she was about to undergo her most profound change in her relationship to faith. Worth reading if you are interested in Karen's story, but not necessary. I note some other commentators imply that she airbrushed her life in a Sprial Staircase and that this is the truer experience but I do not think this is the case. Rather I suspect that as her preference for an approach to faith and to life that is more contemplative and less person-oriented developed, this caused her to view this period through a different lens, although I am only guessing. However her distinct philosophical approach, which sees generalised compassion as more critical to human survival than more focuses personal love, is I think in welcome juxtaposition to our modern tendency to prefer emotional intensity.
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