Journal Article

The Unnamed and the Defaced: The Limits of Rhetoric in Augustine's <i>Confessiones</i>

Matthew G. Condon

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 69, issue 1, pages 43-64
Published in print March 2001 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online March 2001 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
The Unnamed and the Defaced: The Limits of Rhetoric in Augustine's Confessiones

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This article addresses a seeming aporia for the modern reader of Augustine's Confessiones: why is it that Augustine refuses to name significant figures in his life throughout his self-narrative? By way of attempting an answer, I begin with the formal problems of the Confessiones, that is, how one should approach such a fractured and rhetorically disciplined text. Then I address the more specific problem that has been curiously neglected by a whole range of commentators: the violent unnaming and defacing that occurs as a result of Augustine's willful forgetting of particular people who were once close to him. I draw the conclusions that such unnaming was not an oversight committed by Augustine, that he does so in order to distance his own conversion experience from less inspiring stories, and that this is part of a conscious, rhetorical agenda to align his own name with certain distinguished members of the Latin Church

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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