front cover of A Gabriel Marcel Reader
A Gabriel Marcel Reader
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 2011

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Homo Viator
Introduction to the Metaphysic of Hope
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 2010

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The Invisible Threshold
Two Plays by Gabriel Marcel
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 2018
French philosopher and dramatist, Gabriel Marcel (1888-1973), who belonged to the movement of French existentialism, is one of the most insightful thinkers of the twentieth century. Unlike some of his contemporaries who took existentialism in an atheistic, even nihilistic, direction, Marcel approaches human existence from a theistic perspective, and gives priority to the themes of hope, fidelity and faith in the human search for meaning in a challenging world. Author of seventeen major works of philosophy, Marcel also wrote more than thirty plays, including tragedies and comedies, many of which were staged in theaters in Paris, Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland and the United States. Marcel regarded dramatic art as having priority in both a chronological and an intellectual sense. His plays deal with challenging experiences and issues of contention that arise between people, especially families, in day-to-day life. Describing his own style as “post-Ibsen,” because it involves a sense of realism, depictions of passion and sincerity, and a sense of moral duty, Marcel’s plays rarely provide complete or settled answers to the difficulties they confront, but suggest possibilities both of interpretation and with regard to the choices on life’s journey. One of his aims is to allow audiences (and readers) not only to arrive at their own conclusions, but to feel the echo of the dramatic action in their own lives, and so provoke both insight and critical reflection on the dramas of existence. The plays in this new volume were written early in his career, and were published together under the title Le Seuil invisible (The Invisible Threshold) in 1913. The first play, Grace, explores the theme of religious conversion. The drama depicts a crisis between characters of genuine depth and sincerity, who are struggling with different interpretations of shared experiences. After a serious illness, Gerard, one of the main protagonists, undergoes a religious conversion, an experience which allows of two different and irreconcilable interpretations. The first is the interpretation of the scientific materialist; the second regards Gerard’s illness not as a cause but as an occasion to exercise the subject’s creative freedom. The play also raises the question of grace: the role that God may play in the choice of faith. Marcel asks us to consider the sincerity of our choices, and those attitudes and temptations that play a role in our motivations, in a profound dramatization of the experience of the religious as it emerges through challenging life situations. Similar themes are addressed but developed differently in the second play, The Sandcastle. Through the character of Moirans, this drama explores the confrontation between one’s beliefs and their consequences when faced with challenging family and social circumstances. The play asks us to think about what happens when our beliefs and theories, especially about religion, morality and politics, come up against situations in life that can test them. Marcel raises issues of moral character, commitment and sincerity, and introduces the role doubt plays in the way we form and hold our convictions. The springboard for the unfolding of the drama is Moirans’ egotism, and his growing realization of the difference between accepting Christianity in an intellectual and cultural sense, and a Christianity that is lived. This predicament then provokes his daughter, Clarisse, into some profound soul-searching of her own. Drama of this profundity offers audiences and readers a mirror that reflects their own problems, which leads to further awareness and understanding. Marcel’s dramatic works deal with the difficulties in acknowledging many of life’s most profound experiences, in reacting to them in an authentic way, and often illustrates our failures with regard to them. One of the major themes of both his dramatic and philosophical work is that life’s most profound, fulfilling experiences are being compromised more than ever in what he describes as the modern, broken world (le monde cassé), one unfortunately characterized by alienation, loss of meaning and feelings of despair. These new plays of Marcel’s, here translated into English for the first time, will appeal to all who are interested in the role of grace in everyday life, in the influence of culture on belief, the relationship between faith and reason, the choice of faith in a secular world, and the struggle between inauthentic and authentic existence. Marcel raises profound questions about these and related topics, but does not offer final answers. In his plays, he leaves that to us.

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Man against Mass Society
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 2008

The central theme of this important book is that we are paying the price of an arrogance that refuses to recognize mystery. The author invites the reader to enter into the argument that he holds with himself on a great number of problems. Written in the early 1950s, Marcel’s discussion of these topics are remarkably contemporary, e.g.:

* Our crisis is a metaphysical, not merely social, one.

* What a man is depends partly on what he thinks he is, and a materialistic philosophy turns men into things.

* Can a man be free except in a free country?

* Stoicism is no longer a workable philosophy because today pressure can be put on the mind as well as on the body.

* Technical progress is not evil in itself, but a technique is a means that, regarded as an end, can become either an idol or an excuse for self-idolatry. State control of scientific research, leading to a concentration on new means of destruction, is a calamity.

* Fanaticism is an opinion that refuses to argue, and so the fanatic is an enemy of truth.

* The kind of unification that science is bringing about today is really an ironing out of differences, but the only valuable kind of unity is one that implies a respect for differences.

* We must beware of thinking in terms of great numbers and so blinding ourselves to the reality of individual suffering. Our philosophical approach to being is made possible only by our practical approach to our neighbor.

* We must encourage the spirit of fraternity and distrust the kind of egalitarianism that is based on envy and resentment.

* No man however humble should feel that he cannot spread the light among his friends. No easy solution is offered, but the author conveys his own faith that ultimately love and intelligence will triumph.


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Mystery Of Being Vol 1
Reflection & Mystery
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 1950

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Thou Shall Not Die
Gabriel Marcel
St. Augustine's Press, 2009

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Toward Another Kingdom
Two Dramas of the Darker Years
St. Augustine's Press, 2022
Maria Traub's translation of Gabriel Marcel's post-war plays is a window into the French philosopher's answer to his own signature questions regarding human existence. And as in the earlier collection of plays, The Invisible Threshold, the realism, passion and sincerity that frame conscience and moral duty in Marcel are most profoundly visible in the day-to-day of family life. Ideas never before presented theatrically emerge in Marcel's characters who struggle to understand their times and how best to live in them. Post-war life was as much a spiritual reckoning as it was a new society, and Marcel's treatment of introspection is a valuable key to his own work.

Marcel's dramas require characters to respond authentically and from their true selves. He thereby offers the vision of how individual compromises may build up to break the world and condemn, or, conversely, contribute to the discovery and meaning of relation and redemption. Traub's new translation will interest the player as much as the scholar, and Marcel's aptitude for theatrical writing is proven once again. His intellectual sensitivity creates characters that beckon performance, which is an added dimension to the presentation of the human condition.

front cover of Tragic Wisdom and Beyond
Tragic Wisdom and Beyond
Gabriel Marcel
Northwestern University Press, 1980
This volume presents two works by Gabriel Marcel. The first, Tragic Wisdom and Beyond, a collection of his later writings, shows the impact of his encounter with the later writings of Heidegger. The second, Conversations between Paul Ricoeur and Gabriel Marcel, is a series of six conversations between Marcel and his most famous student.

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