The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

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Harcourt, Brace, 1959 - Religion - 256 pages
19 Reviews
This is one of my favorite books. Renowned anthropologist and historian of religion Mircea Eliade attempts to describe how religious people experience the sacred. He also gives a fascinating explanation of primitive religions. The popular image of the religion of primitive peoples is pretty unflattering: they worship rocks, animals, and whatnot; their rituals are just attempts to extract favors from imaginary spirits; their myths are laughably bad attempts at scientific explanations, etc. Eliade shows that these are complete misunderstandings. Primitive people don't worship natural objects, but they believe that natural objects can be revelations of the sacred, and that one can worship the gods through them. Primitive men certainly do want help from their gods (who wouldn't?), but they are also driven by what Eliade calls an 'ontological nostalgia', a desire to live in the presence of the gods who are the preeminently real and the source of all being. Nor do their myths seem so silly when one understands the function they serve and the universal symbolism they employ.

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Review: The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

User Review  - Yvonne - Goodreads

Last January the book group I attend once a month decided to Read The Sacred And The Profane. It is not a novel. It is a book about the nature of religion. When I opened the book to the first page of ... Read full review

Review: The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

User Review  - Sharon Miller - Goodreads

It has been on my list of to-read for more than a decade, the work of Mircea Eliade. So I read this book. I feel a little bad that I don't think I learned much. The author is mercifully repetitive ... Read full review

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About the author (1959)

Born in Bucharest, Rumania, Mircea Eliade studied at the University of Bucharest and, from 1928 to 1932, at the University of Calcutta with Surendranath Dasgupta. After taking his doctorate in 1933 with a dissertation on yoga, he taught at the University of Bucharest and, after the war, at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1957, Eliade was a professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago. He was at the same time a writer of fiction, known and appreciated especially in Western Europe, where several of his novels and volumes of short stories appeared in French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Two Tales of the Occult "to relate some yogic techniques, and particularly yogic folklore, to a series of events narrated in the genre of a mystery story." Both Nights of Serampore and The Secret of Dr. Honigberger evoke the mythical geography and time of India. Mythology, fantasy, and autobiography are skillfully combined in Eliade's tales.

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