A welcome edition of the Gifford Lectures of 1948-9. Dawson's panoramic description of medieval history and cultures is guided by his conviction that the seminal role of religion in the formation of Western culture is a logical development of Christianity's insistence upon the historical nature of the Incarnation and its consequences. ''Unless we read Dawson,'' said the Saturday Review of Literature, ''we are uninformed.'' 316 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
In this new edition of his classic work, "Religion and the Rise of Western Culture," Christopher Dawson addresses two of the most pressing subjects of our day: the origin of Europe and the religious roots of Western culture. With the magisterial sweep of Toynbee, to whom he is often compared, Dawson tells here the tale of medieval Christendom. From the brave travels of sixth-century Irish monks to the grand synthesis of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, Dawson brilliantly shows how vast spiritual movements arose from tiny origins and changed the face of medieval Europe from one century to the next. The legacy of those years of ferment remains with us in the great cathedrals, Gregorian chant, and the works of Giotto and Dante. Even more, though, for Dawson these centuries charged the soul of the West with a spiritual concern -- a concern that he insists "can never be entirely undone except by the total negation or destruction of Western man himself."