"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Brilliant and Tragic Life of Pavel Florensky

In the upcoming fall issue of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, we have an article discussing the life and significance of Pavel Florensky, still only moderately understood in the Christian East, and barely in the West.

Florensky has hitherto been studied by only a few in the West, most significantly Robert Slesinski in his Pavel Florensky: A Metaphysics of Love. Many of Florensky's works remain untranslated, though we do have in English his landmark books The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters as well as Iconostasis and Beyond Vision: Essays on the Perception of Art.

Last year, Avril Pyman and Geoffrey Hosking published what looks to be the most important study of Florensky in a quarter-century:  Pavel Florensky: A Quiet Genius: The Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Russia's Unknown da Vinci (Continuum Books, 2010), 328pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Pavel Florensky: A Quiet Genius is the first biography in English of an extraordinary polymath whose genius was stifled and finally extinguished by the Soviet Union. He has been compared to Pascal, Teilhard de Chardin, even da Vinci. Florensky was, at one and the same time, a supremely gifted philosopher, mathematician, physicist, inventor, engineer and theologian. He was also a poet and wrote studies of history, language and art. Although he taught philosophy for most of his working life, his interests were wide-ranging and profound and included the study of time and space, theoretical and applied physics, aspects of language, and the properties of materials and geology. His book The Pillar and the Ground of Truth is widely seen as a masterpiece of Russian Orthodox theology. Avril Pyman looks at Florensky’s life, from his childhood as the son of a railroad engineer to his mysterious death, and provides a populist perspective on his achievements. Her book celebrates the life of a little-known twentieth century Christian genius.
We will have this book expertly reviewed for Logos in 2012. 

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