I saw a massive biography about Augustine in my University Press bookstore… but my University is Berkeley, so I highly doubt it’s been approved by the Church. But I’ve been wanting to read a good life of Augustine for some time, so does anyone have any suggestions?
Annie, you beat me to it! I’m re-reading it for the first time since I came to the Church!
I would recommend Peter Brown’s biography. It’s old but still good. Henry Chadwick has a shorter one. Neither of these authors are Catholic, by the way. But the Catholic Church no longer expects you to read only books “approved by the Church.” And I would strongly encourage you to read widely, from many different perspectives. Not that you care what I think.
I would also recommend James O’Donnell’s bibliography of works by and about Augustine. O’Donnell’s own biography of Augustine has been criticized for its rather caustic tone toward its subject. (O’Donnell is a Catholic, but no doubt would be regarded on this board as an unacceptably liberal one.) I’ve heard him speak and respect his scholarship but have not read the biography for myself and am hesitant to recommend it. In the bibliography, however, you will find listed a number of works on Augustine by great Catholic scholars such as Etienne Gilson and Henri-Irenee Marrou. I also note that Frederick Van der Meer’s book on Augustine as a bishop was published by the Catholic company Sheed and Ward. I did not mean to deny the value of you as a Catholic (or anyone else for that matter) reading Catholic scholarship on Augustine. It just so happens that the two basic biographies I feel most confident recommending are by Anglicans (I don’t know Brown’s religious affiliation for sure, but I think he’s an Anglican, and I know Chadwick is).
a little poison is still poison.
i’m almost done with Confessions. i think it will introduce you to his writing style and thoughts, and cover his conversion, but there are probably many others that will do well to really give you a fuller picture. i know many don’t like Confessions and couldn’t bear reading it, and i started to get impatient early on, but once you get to the conversion part it is worth it.
Love this book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel:
I second this. Sir Henry is an exceptional scholar, and he is widely acknowledged as an expert on Augustine. While a student at the University of St. Thomas, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak on Augustine and getting to chat with him for a while about Augustine’s problems reconciling the fall of Satan with free will.
And, of course, the best place to start is with the definitive autobiography of Augustine.
– Mark L. Chance.
And naive use of analogy is intellectual poison.
One of the greatest books ever written.
I didn’t know about this (or had forgotten). But Fr. Groeschel is great.
Thanks for the suggestions all Confessions is online for free, too, so I’ll get on that.
There are a number of good biographies. Peter Brown’s biography is good, and should be read in conjunction with books that explore his thought. Henry Chadwick (recommended above) is well worth reading.