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 Featured Title
Patrick Grant  

$24.95 Paperback
Release Date: 5/1/2012
ISBN: 9781926836751    

252 Pages

Distributed for Athabasca University Press


About the Book

"... aspirations to perfection awaken us to our actual imperfection." It is in the space between these aspirations and our inability to achieve them that Grant reflects upon imperfection. Grant argues that an awareness of imperfection, defined as both suffering and the need for justice, drives us to an unrelenting search for perfection, freedom, and selfdetermination. The twenty-one brief chapters of Imperfection develop this governing idea as it relates to the present situation of the God debate, modern ethnic conflicts, and the pursuit of freedom in relation to the uncertainties of personal identity and the quest for self-determination.

Known for his exploration of the relationship between Buddhism and violent ethnic conflict in modern Sri Lanka, as well as his contribution to the study of Northern Ireland and the complex relationships among religion, literature, and ethnicity, Grant provides the reader with an analysis of the widespread rise of religious extremism across the globe. Referencing Plato, Van Gogh, Jesus, and the Buddha, he enlightens the reader with both succinct and original insights into human society. Imperfection is the result of an important Canadian public intellectual at work.

About the Author(s)

Patrick Grant is professor emeritus of English at the University of Victoria. He is the author of several books, including Buddhism and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka; Literature, Rhetoric, and Violence in Northern Irelands; and Personalism and the Politics of Culture.

Table of Contents

preface xi
introduction 1

part i Imperfection
1 Plato and the Limits of Idealism 9
2 The Van Gogh Letters: The Art of the Unfinished 17
3 The Trouble with Visions 31
4 Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Regressive Inversion 41
5 Osama, Theo, and the Burnt Fool’s Bandaged Finger 49
6 What the Buddha Didn’t Say 57
7 Not So Good News: The Gospel According to Mark 67

part ii Self
8 Immortal Souls and State Executions 79
9 The Eyes Have It: Seeing One’s Self and Others 89
10 The God of Battles and the Irish Dimension of Shakespeare’s Henry V 99
11 Crucifying Harry: Victims, Scapegoats, and the Northern Ireland Troubles 107
12 Talking to the Cyclops: On Violence and Self-Destruction 115
13 Doing Nothing About It: Taoism, Selflessness, and Non-Action 121
14 Cliff Jumpers and Delta Dwellers: On Religious Language and Commitment 133

part iii Freedom
15 Dr. Johnson, Freedom, and the Book of Psalms 145
16 Sex, Society, and Romeo and Juliet 155
17 Cartoons from Denmark and the March of the Zombies 165
18 Vergil and the Almighty Dollar 173
19 Endgame in Sri Lanka: Dharmapala’s Legacy and Rajapaksa’s War 183
20 Jung and The Secret of the Golden Flower 195
21 Kieslowski’s Red: Fraternity in the Making 205

bibliographical notes 225


"Drawing on philosophy, art, film, psychology and mysticism among others, I can’t think of another book that combines such spread of reference, such succinctness, and such depth of concern without losing weight or coherence, notwithstanding its - shall we call it? - wisdom."

John Wilson Foster, Queen’s University, Belfast

Sample Chapter

A sample chapter of this title is not available at this time. For further information, please email

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