recommended books

Alain Besançon
The Forbidden Image, An Intellectual History of Iconoclasm

by Hamilton Reed Armstrong

In 1521 the image of Our Lady of Paris was decapitated on Pentecost Sunday by a group of Huguenots. The act perpetuated over a hundred years of civil and religious strife in France. Ideas do have consequences.

Besançon’s book is not an easy read, but for those interested in the philosophy and history of “Iconoclasm,” this is an immensely rich and powerful book. While the subject may be of little interest to modern materialist man, as stated above, both iconoclasts (literally - image breakers) and the makers of images are deeply motivated and have fought each other both physically and metaphysically through the ages

In this heavily researched book, the author has presented the case from both points of view from earliest history, plumbing Greek philosophy, Biblical prohibitions, the Middle Ages, Protestant Reformers, up to modern times. He quotes such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine and Aquinas as well as the Idealists, Kant and Hegel. He even delves into the thought of such modern theorists as Kandinsky and Malevich.

This is a book that should be on the library shelf of all Catholic institutions of higher learning as well as in the home of all intellectually well informed Catholics and Art patrons.

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