Cloth $28; Paper $17
211 pages, 6” x 9”, paperbound, notes, index
A Theory of Western Civilization
Western culture, which influenced the whole world, came from Europe. But its roots are not there. They are in Athens and Jerusalem. European culture takes its bearing from references that are not in Europe: Europe is eccentric.
What makes the West unique? What is the driving force behind its culture? Rémi Brague takes up these questions in Eccentric Culture, now available in paper for the first time. This is not another dictionary of European culture, nor a measure of the contributions of a particular individual, religion, or national tradition. The author’s interest is especially, with regard to the transmission of that culture, to articulate the dynamic tension that has propelled Europe and more generally the West toward civilization. It is this mainspring of European culture, this founding principle, that Brague calls “Roman.” In so doing, Brague adds the third, and stabilizing, leg to the foundations of the West . . . not only reason (Athens) and revelation (Jerusalem), but tradition (Rome) as well.
“The importance of the Roman mediation is the thesis that Rémi Brague brilliantly defends in this remarkable [work].” – René Girard
”This is an acute and highly readable attempt to think through the question of the European identity as derived fundamentally from the Roman rather than the Greek or Biblical tradition.” – Stanley Rosen
“In his widely translated book packed with significant and unfamiliar knowledge, Rémi Brague constructs an arresting thesis. European culture has prospered by welcoming its own derivativeness (“secondarity”) from Roman culture. . . . A probing, learned, and provocative book of history and ideas.” – Roger Shattuck
”Its appearance . . . is a cultural event of the first importance. . . . It is hard to do justice to the richness of Eccentric Culture, to the sparks of observation and opinion that Brague throws off as he forges his new reading of the Western past.” – The Weekly Standard
“. . . richly insightful essay.” – First Things