Gnostics have always sought to “know” rather than to accept dogma and doctrine, often to their peril. This inquiry into Gnosticism examines the character, history. Jacques Lacarrière was a French writer, born in Limoges. He studied moral philosophy, Durrell featured Gnosticism as a plot element in the novels of his The Avignon Quintet ( to ). He also wrote a “Foreword” to the English. JACQUES LACARRIERE. The Gnostics. Foreword by. LAWRENCE DURRELL. Translated from the French by. NINA ROOTES.

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Goodreads helps you lacarrriere track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. This inquiry into Gnosticism examines the character, history, and beliefs of a brave and vigorous spiritual quest that originated in the ancient Near East and continues into the present day.

It is as convincing a reconstruction of the way the Gnostics lived and thought as D. Lacarriere is particularly well informed about the various currents and undercurrents of Gnosticism, and their perennial importance for the religious and the mystic mind. Paperbackpages. Published January 1st by City Lights Publishers first published ajcques To see what your friends thought gnostocs this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about The Gnosticsplease sign up. Lists with This Book. This is the second time I’ve read this book; the first time was about a decade ago. I considered it one of my favorite books back then and had recommended it to a number laacrriere friends. Reading it again, I do remember the beauty of the writer’s thoughts.

I was mesmerized by the topic: I include this book in my list of books of reading for insomnia – a sort of collection of books which come to my mind when I think of that liminal space between dreaming and being barely This is the second time I’ve read this book; the first time was about a decade ago.

I gostics this book in my list of books of reading for insomnia – a sort of collection of books which come to my mind when I think of that liminal space between dreaming and being barely awake.

Books to read when you are awoken in the early morning, or when you are forced to have to get up. Books that reveal a hidden light into the everyday.

View all 5 comments. Jun 05, Ben rated it really liked it. One of the better books on Gnosticism that I have read. Jacques Lacarriere writes in a poetic way that helps evoke the overtly mystical quality of the great Gnostic age of Basilides and Valentinus.

He is less squeamish about tackling the Gnostics often bizarre ritualistic practices as they come down to us through their Christian opponentsand he makes a decent jacwues in rescuing their complex ideology from being that as simply ‘world hating’.

Mar 21, Joe added it Shelves: This book is a lyrical meditation on ancient gnosticism as the ‘betrayal’ of the physical cosmos.

Jacques Lacarrière

It is beautifully written. Lacarriere has heavyweight fans like Lawrence Durrell and Marguerite Yourcenar. Lacarriere nicely conveys the alienated horror the ancient Gnostics felt for the world around them. And he maintains that this is in some ways comparable to our contemporary alienation under capitalism. In this way, an ancient heresy and modern revolution are used to illuminate each other.

And o This book is a lyrical meditation on ancient gnosticism as the ‘betrayal’ of the physical cosmos. And our author goes about lavarriere in a manner that is very convincing.

For our purposes here, let us say that the Traditionalist maintain that the Truth that all the Great Religious Traditions point to is unsurpassable, and thus they, and only they, are the bearers of Truth.


The argument with this is or so I take Lacarriere to mean that given the radical evil of the World according to the Gnosticswe can expect no help from past religions that all spoke to a very different time. Our author argues that this ‘cult of the past’ “can only distract Man from his true quest: The several great religions born in the wake of the Agricultural Revolution and consequent rise of Empire cannot hope to speak to a world in which Man has become an Effective Power.

This is radically new. Our author maintains that religious answers to the human condition, if they can be found, must only be in the future, not the past. Modernity has changed the way people live as much as the Agriculture Revolution alongside the rise of Empire once did. The Axial Age Religions arose as a response to this. I think that Lecarriere not only imagined this, but hoped for it too Upped to 5 stars after a second reading.

The Gnostic attitude repudiates history and dogma: Moreover, resources on Gnosticism are scant, and many extant works were written through the hostile lens of the Church. How fitting then that this book attempts first and foremost to reconstruct and impart glimpses of the inner life of the Gnostics–historical survey is only a secondary concern.

pacarriere The first part is correspondingly a Gnostic meditation on ‘The Work Upped to 5 stars after a second reading. The gnostiics part is correspondingly a Gnostic meditation on ‘The Workings of the World’, which has a musing on the ‘The Perforated Veil’, the sky, as its point of departure one very characteristic of the style of the entire book: What emotions does the sight of the sky inspire in us, if not praise, enthusiasm, and admiration? It is vast, infinite, immutable, omnipresent; it eludes the relative and the measurable; it is a parameter of the incommensurable.

But in this concert, which we consider natural and which celebrates dawn, zenith, nadir and twilight with equal lacsrriere, discordant notes sometimes jar the ear. To be vast is good. To be infinite is too much. To possess planets and stars is an incontestable triumph. But to possess them by the million, to teem with stars which are so many eyes trained upon the world each night as if tracking our dreams, is to wield excessive power, to display a very suspect splendour.

Something in this immensity turns and meshes its gears with a regularity so precise as bnostics be disquieting; and exactly for whom–or against whom–this mechanism deploys its flaming wheelworks, we do not know. So, in this simple look directed at the celestial vault, the Gnostics find themselves confronted with the ultimate nature of reality: Is this dark shore, this tenebrous issue, this interstitial shadow wherein the stars seem pricked like incandescent pores, constituted of matter or of space?

Is the ‘real’ sky nothing but its light, these winking eyes on the ocean of night, or is it at one and the same time that which shines and that which does not, a fire flaming lacariere dark by turns?

Do its shores and its black abysses comprise a nothingness, an absence of light, or are they the concrete material which interposes itself between our earth and jacquss distant fires which it obscures?

No doubt this question will seem absurd, or at least premature, in the age gnostids the Gnostics. Nevertheless, it is implicit at the very starting-point jcaques their thought.

Since man, in their view, is a fragment of the universe, and since the body of the one and the space of the other proceed from a simple material, both must obey the same laws.


The Gnostics

Man is a mirror in which one can discover the reduced and condensed image of the sky, a living universe carrying within him, in his body and in his psyche, fires and dark shores, zones of shadows and of light. Are these lights and shadows simply forms split off from a single material, or two materials of opposing nature? All our existence, all our choices as thinking hominids are vitally implicated in this simple question.

Thus, the Gnostics searched the splendours and the terrors of the sky to find an answer to our own duality. Never was there asked a more pertinent question and never were the stars scanned so earnestly. And it seems that what struck these men most forcibly, as they watched throughout the Egyptian nights, is the dark portion of the sky–the vastness, the omnipresence, the heavy opacity of that blackness. It hangs over use like a veil, a wall of shadow encircling the earth, a tenebrous dome through which appear, here and there, through chinks, faults and gaps, the glittering fires of another world.

A gigantic black lid seals in our universe and encompasses us with its opacity. While the next two parts of the book centre around Gnosticism’s historical origins and developments, it remains loaded with sentiment exemplified by the above, which to me seems appropriate: Of which it describes plenty. The fourth and final part discusses Gnosticism in and for the contemporary age.

Jun 12, Andrew Simmons rated it really liked it. Fascinating attempt at understanding Gnosticism via tracing it back to basic phenomenological experiences. Dec 28, Yannis Theodossis rated it really liked it.

A wonderful essay on the life and times of this religious movement that stirred the christian world for a few centuries. Kacques read, lets you know the movement’s main branches and protagonists and keeps you curious and interested in each page. To be honest, I doubt this is an objective depiction of the gnostics. Some of them are presented something as poets of religious doctrines rather than religious leaders. Then you need to read something from the side that likes Gnostics, since they have muc A wonderful essay on the life and times of this religious movement that stirred the christian world for a few centuries.

Then you need to read something from the side that likes Gnostics, since they have much suffered by false accusations in the past. Dec 15, Rrisher rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a beautiful essay on The Gnostics leaders, groups, ideology, theology, etc. It’s a short tome, but the writing is beautiful and waxes poetic as it tries to embody the ideology through it’s performance on the page. The essay isn’t interested in being didactic or overly historical, and is written in a very personal manner which makes it very unique and more engaging.

If I were to teach bnostics class on gnosticism, this would definitely be on my required reading list. Jan 16, Eric Bradford rated it liked it. History has made every attempt to destory all records of the gnostic belief. History is written by the victors and Christianity stomped Gnosticism jacquss millenia ago.

The Gnostics – Jacques Lacarriere – Google Books

This book examines the information available and tries to piece together a model jacqkes can understand. An impossible undertaking which was done reasonably well. Overall, it was ok. Aug 05, Nick Mather rated it it was amazing.