Louis Massignon: The Crucible of Compassion

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University of Notre Dame Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 283 pages
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Louis Massignon was a pivotal figure in awakening Western interest in Islamic studies, and although his work is well-known to students of Islam or French history, he is relatively unknown in the English-speaking world. Now in this fascinating biography Mary Louise Gude introduces a new audience to the eminent French Orientalist who dominatesd the field of Islamic studies for over 60 years. This account covers many aspects of Massignon's rich and complex life, beginning with his birth in 1883 in Paris until his death in 1962, and reveals how Massignon's extraordinary life unfolded during a time when relations between Islam and the West changed radically. Gude discusses how Massignon first discovered the Muslim world in the nineteenth century - the era of European colonial imperialism - and lived to witness the major events that reshaped Islam in the first half of the twentieth century, including the creation of the Arab states after World War I, the creation of Israel and the subsequent Arab-Israeli War of 1948, and the independence of Algeria in 1962. Drawn from Massignon's own writings as well as other primary and secondary sources, this unique biography also includes theological discussions of Massignon's intellectual development and writings. Gude reveals Massignon to be a believer who rediscovered Christianity through Islam; a mystic involved in the political realities of his day; and an Islamophile who remained quintessentially French. What emerges overall is the story of a passionate, but ultimately elusive, man whose professional and personal commitments were inseparable. Today Massignon's work continues to engage scholars and students of Islam and interfaith relations, and, as abridge-builder between Christianity and Islam, his far-reaching influence is unequaled.

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Louis Massignon: the crucible of compassion

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Gude (romance languages, Univ. of Notre Dame) relies heavily on secondary sources for this biography of one of the pioneers of orientalism. Louis Massignon (1883-1962) played a major role in shaping ... Read full review


one Beginnings
two Conversion
three The Search for Commitment

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