Friday, September 11, 2015

Difficult Terrain Ahead, Guide Recommended

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Andrea shared with you:


Difficult Terrain Ahead, Guide Recommended - SHORTLY AFTER the appearance of A Secular Age in 2007, I suggested to its author, Charles Taylor, that he consider publishing an abbreviated version of the book. At a hefty 874 pages, I feared that his work might not reach the wide audience it deserved. And there was a precedent for this proposal: Taylor's large, eponymous book on Hegel, published in 1975, was followed four years later by his shorter Hegel and Modern Society. Yet my suggestion of a micro version of A Secular Age was greeted with a mixture of horror and disbelief. "Shorter?" asked Chuck incredulously. "Shorter? It needs to be longer!" Given the book's reception at even that early stage, I did understand his point. Many commentators had identified significant omissions in Taylor's tracing of the pathways in religious belief in the modern Western world from 1500 to now. Judaism, for example, plays a negligible role. Islam and European colonialism are likewise neglected. I could readily comprehend Taylor's insistence that his long book needed to be even longer, but my worry about the inverse correlation between page and readership number remained: how many people would buy or borrow, let alone read, a work of that size?

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