Desire in Saint Augustine’s Confessions

  • Robert R. Edwards
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Saint Augustine’s Confessions presents a story of spiritual conversion structured by providence yet working through desire. Desire is the path that leads Augustine from carnal indulgence and worldly ambition through his partial conversions to Manicheism and philosophy, thence toward a full conversion to orthodox Catholicism and a final beatific vision shared with Monica shortly before her death at Ostia. It serves rhetorically to lend conceptual and thematic unity to what Henry Chadwick calls “a prose-poem in thirteen books” and Jean Hagstrum sees as “supremely a love poem.”1 Desire connects the autobiographical and speculative dimensions of the Confessions, linking the story of Augustine’s life to age thirty-three (books 1–9) with the topics of memory, time, and creation (books 10–13). It has a structure and development, evolving from an originary model associated with infancy and the acquisition of language to a refined model that emerges in Augustine’s account of adolescence and early adulthood.


Pear Tree Divine Love Gratuitous Evil Dual Framework Worldly Ambition 
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© Robert R. Edwards 2006

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  • Robert R. Edwards

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