Over the years I have several times tried to read the Confessions and always failed to get into the book, but this time I can't put it down! This translation offers the reader the chance to feel that Augustine has just written what he wants to say and it's possible to identify with his thoughts - and also like him - after years of thinking he was a cold fish with nothing interesting to say to me. Father Benignus O'Rourke has done a magnificent job! The text on the Kindle - it seems only to be available on Kindle as far as I can see - is spaced in a way which makes the reading easy on the eye and much less difficult to take in the sense of what is written. I cannot recommend this edition highly enough - especially if, like me, you have been curious as to why so many people rave over the Confessions and the very fact of it having probably never been out of print. Now I know. . .
I am writing this later: I bought a physical copy - which does exist - so that I could lend it to a friend. I was so glad I had first bought the Kindle version because I did find the print in the book too small for comfort - for my eyes anyway. I did lend it and received such an enthusiastic letter back maybe I need to have my eyes tested. I can only say go for this book in whatever form!
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The cover of this book describes it as "A fresh translation". In his Foreword, Martin Laird calls it " a daringly original contribution to the history of English translations of "Confessions". Benignus O'Rourke tells the story of the two boys who came to Clare Priory, asking for something of Augustine to read themselves. He and his confrere saw the need of a translation that you could put into the hands of a sixteen-year-old. This is his attempt to fill that need. He also wanted to capture the poetic intensity of Augustine's writing. He has succeeded well. There are many translations available today, but people who start off with the 19th century of Doctor Pusey are easily put off. I began with Frank Sheed's translation, and am still using it because it is familiar to me. Now Henry Chadwick, Maria Boulding and others are very helpful. The present translation is a worthy addition to these. I have read this with great excitement: at times I thought I was reading the Confessions for the first time! Both the translation and the layout make the reading far from intimidating.. Fr. O'Rourke has succeeded in what he set out to do, and I am sure he will help many more than the sixteen-year-olds to enjoy St. Augustine's most famous work.
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I have always felt that Augustine's Confessions gives a human face to this thinker to whom history has not always been kind. If you have previously enjoyed the Confessions then prepare to be delighted by this novel translation. It is an outrageous idea that I think works really well. What O'Rourke has done is to take this almost overfamiliar text and render it into poetry! Only Books I-IX receive his ambitious treatment, but the original sub-chapters are now rendered into digestible chunks that would work equally well as stand alone texts or for a 'Lectio Divina' type of approach.
Novel without a doubt, but the intimacy of Augustine's conversation really shines through, hopefully making it available for a new audience.
The unusual way this translation is set out makes for easy reading and the style is modern and easy of access. It does mean that the volume is large and heavy but the bonus makes it worth while. A classic not to be missed