Cover image for The affirming flame : a poetics of meaning
The affirming flame : a poetics of meaning
Friedman, Maurice S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
252 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN49 .F665 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



No Marketing Blurb

Author Notes

Maurice S. Friedman is professor emeritus of religious studies, philosophy, and comparative literature at San Diego State University and co-director of the Institute for Dialogical Psychotherapy in San Diego.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Friedman (emeritus, San Diego State Univ.) assembles from a lifetime of reading and meditation a structure of meaning that places modern literature and world traditions in a dialectic of affirmation, doubt, and tension. Throughout, his redeeming virtue is insistence on the lived concrete, the particular. No Platonist, Friedman looks to Lao-tse, the Hasidic masters, Whitman, Rilke, Wendell Berry, and Annie Dillard for a confession of the holiness of the everyday. He looks to Melville, Achebe, Dostoyevsky, and Hopkins for doubt. For synthesis, he begins with Kafka and Kundera, going on to Yeats and Auden, Milosz, Levertov, and finally Primo Levi. A rich tour of mostly modern literature, Friedman's work has an instantly recognizable structure of affirmation, denial, and synthesis, leading toward a meditation on the Shoah. There is too much self-reference: the epigraph is a Friedman quotation from a previous book; there is even a quote of Buber's comments on Friedman's previous work. The principle impact of the book on a seasoned reader is to stimulate thoughts of rereading Friedman's sources. One old traveler tells tales to another and the second responds: "Oh, yes, I was there once, too. I like how you've arranged your slides." This is for the browsing section; but it is for serious browsers. J. Churchill Hendrix College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 11
Prefacep. 17
Introduction: A Poetics of Meaningp. 21
Part I Finding Meaning in the Lived Concrete
Chapter 1 Mystics of the Particularp. 33
Taoist, Zen, and Hasidic Masters
Traherne, Whitman, Black Elk, Dostoyevsky, Heschel
Chapter 2 Poets of the Here and Nowp. 47
Rilke, Levertov, Berry, Dillard
Part II Evil and the Absurd: The Threat of Meaninglessness
Chapter 3 The Shattering of Securityp. 65
Melville's Moby Dick and Achebe's Things Fall Apart
Chapter 4 Faith, Anguish, and Doubtp. 73
Dostoyevsky, Dickinson, Hopkins, and Levertov
Chapter 5 The Demonism of Naturep. 87
Melville's Moby Dick
Chapter 6 Human Demonismp. 95
Black Elk and Rabbit Boss, Morrison's Beloved, Primo Levi
Part III Holding the Tension between Affirming and Withstanding
Chapter 7 Kafka and Kundera: Two Voices from Praguep. 109
Franz Kafka's Castle: The Calling and the Call
Milan Kundera's Immortality: Deconstructing the Illusion of Personal Uniqueness
Chapter 8 The Harmonic, the Tragic, and the Grotesquep. 129
Yeats, Auden, Neruda, Milosz
Chapter 9 The Scandal of the Particularp. 141
Amichai, Levertov, Dillard
Chapter 10 The Shoah--Our Ultimate Confrontationp. 157
Andre Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just
Primo Levi, Nellie Sachs, and Paul Celan
Conclusion: Confronting Deathp. 187
Hermeneutical Appendix: Toward a Poetics of Dialoguep. 209
Notesp. 233

Google Preview