21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Mark Edward Bachmann
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Will Durant wrote like a force of nature, and this book is a fine expression of his power. The body of his life's work seems to have been an effort, albeit incomplete, to cover the entire history of mankind, and each individual volume covers it's time frame by sweeping through every aspect of civilization: politics, military affairs, economics, science, art, philosophy, religion, literature, architecture, and social customs. The Age of Faith opens with the death of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 337 and carries up through around the 14th century, the dawn of what has come to be known as the Renaissance. As implied by the title of this volume, it was the flowering of the three great Western religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - which dominates the story, and Durant devotes significant attention to all three, even though the birth of "Christendom" ultimately emerges as the defining event of the era. The charm of Durant's writing is the passionate love affair he seems to have had with humankind through all times and in all of it's manifestations. While he doesn't minimize the unspeakable brutalities that recur, he writes with an exuberant reverence for the spiritual and intellectual industry that he finds in every facet of human development. Like any competent historian, he also dispels historical stereotypes, and there is no real sense of a "Dark Age" at any point during this period despite Durant's occasional use of the term. However, what does become clear is that until late in the period, it was Islam, rather than Christianity, that achieved the most advanced civilization of medieval times. For readers, such as myself, who are largely ignorant of Islam, the lengthy chapters devoted to Muslim culture may be the most informative and interesting in the book. The Jews, who were scattered and lacked political or military power, are portrayed as bringing a degree of cohesion to European and Eur-Asian development, maintaining a cultural identity of their own, while making remarkable contributions, intellectually and economically, to the dominant cultures within which they found themselves. Inevitably the structure of a book like this is a bit chaotic. There's little chronology to it, and the author jumps from one geographic region and one topic to another in no particular pattern. The book closes with an entire chapter devoted to Dante, in whose writing and life Durant sees both the quintessence of the mediaeval spirit a bridge to the Renaissance. The book's limitations are probably inherent in the author's very purpose, since by covering everything, he's forced by the constraints of space to gloss over much. Even so, The Age of Faith extends over a thousand pages. For readers, again such as myself, who are primarily interested in the political history of the period, the lavish attention paid to cultural topics - e.g., page-long excerpts from obscure Islamic poems, or breathless and detailed descriptions of a particular Byzantine mosaic or a gargoyle on the wall of a French cathedral - are distracting and at times annoying in light of the cursory focus given to weightier matters. Allowing for all this, however, this is a fine book from an extraordinarily gifted writer, and I highly recommend it.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Covering the fantastic weight of medieval history (325-1300 A.D.) from Julian the Apostate to Dante, Will Durant with excessive force and candor handles the decline of a classical age growing into the gloom of the dark ages only to sprout again into a post-adolescent Europe characterized by the emergence of gothic architecture, philosophy and letters, poetry and science, all shrouded by the spiritual jurisprudence of a Christendom at its climax. However, the voluminous expanse of this work not only necessitates the primary features of European civilization, both sacred and profane, but adds to the breadth and timeless lore of it the nature and origin of Islamic and medieval Jewish culture...ultimately constituting the "Age of Faith."
The scope of this work is treated in five books: The Byzantine Zenith (325-565 A.D.), which handles the downfall of paganism, the triumph of the barbarians, the progress of christianity, Europe (western) in its nascent form, the reign of Justinian - his successes and failures, Byzantine civilization - its extent and wealth, science and philosophy, literature and art, closing with an elaborate sketch of Persian royalty and society with the advent of the Arab conquest; book two, Islamic Civilization (569-1258 A.D.), beginning with Mohammed describing his moral character and military prowess which ultimately culminated into the conquest of a vast domain, the Koran - its influence, form, creed, and ethics, the successors (caliphs and emirs) to the "Sword of Islam", the nature of Islamic government, economy, and people, the thought and art of Islam, finishing with its granduer and decline; book three, Judaic Civilization (135-1300 A.D.) - the exiles and makers of the Talmud, and the character of the medieval Jew; Book four, the Dark Ages (566-1095 A.D.), covers the rise of Byzantine, the birth of Russia, the decline of the west, the rise of the north, christianity in a state of confilct, and the origins and rise of fuedalism and chivalry; book five, the Climax of Christianity (1095-1300 A.D.) handles the victories and defeats of the Crusades, the economic recovery of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church, the inquisition, the rise of monasticism, the morals and manners of Christian Europe, and finaly to its flowering...the resurrection of philosophy and the arts.
To undertake such a vast task with so many factors and outcomes throughout such a long period of time - which customarily was characterized by a plethora of follies and misfortunes with the occasional rise and fall of greatness and prosperity - is without a doubt challenging if not wholly impossible to acheive without making some generalizations...but if anyone has ever penetrated and colored the principle aspects of the "Age of Faith" with a common intellect and driving sincerity it is unmistakebly Will Durant.