In the tradition of James Frazer, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, Thierry Hentsch retells, with new urgency and a keen critical eye, “the story of the West” that shapes our perception of the world. Yet, “the story of the West” does not exist. Only a reading of its most seminal texts?from Ulysses to Hamlet, from the Torah to the Gospels, from Plato to Descartes?can bring it alive.
His tale turns on a startling discovery: The Christian message of immortality is conditional. To overcome death?the touchstone of the human condition?the believer must accept the Truth of salvation. Western civilization, by replacing God with technoscience, offers the universal promise that salvation may now be gained on earth. Yet, as a condition, it would impose its own absolute morality on the world. Truth or Death: the Biblical injunction is ours as well.
About the authors
Swiss-born Francophone author Thierry Hentsch carried out various diplomatic missions for the International Red Cross in Syria, Palestine and Pakistan. An expert in intercultural relations, especially between the East and West, he published many incisive journal articles, reviews and collections, which have appeared in Conjonctures, Études internationales, Spirale and Le Monde diplomatique. His extensive research efforts culminated in L’Orient imaginaire [ Imagining the Middle East ], a much-heralded 1988 publication in which Hentsch provides a solemn critique of the Western perception of the Middle East and reflects on the construction of Western literary, cultural, philosophical, and political identities in relation to the “other.”
Fred A. Reed
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. After several years as a librarian and trade union activist at the Montreal Gazette, Reed began reporting from Islamic Iran in 1984, visiting the Islamic Republic thirty times since then. He has also reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada and Le Devoir. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. Anatolia Junction, his acclaimed work on the unacknowledged wars of the Ottoman succession, has been translated in Turkey, where it enjoys a wide following. Shattered Images, which explores the origins of contemporary fundamentalist movements in Islam, has also been translated into Turkish, and into French as Images brisées (VLB éditeur, Montréal).
After several years as a librarian and trade union activist at the Montreal Gazette, Reed began reporting from Islamic Iran in 1984, visiting the Islamic Republic thirty times since then. He has also reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada and Le Devoir.
A three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation, plus a nomination in 2009 for his translation of Thierry Hentsch’s Le temps aboli, Empire of Desire. Reed has translated works by many of Québec’s leading authors, several in collaboration with novelist David Homel, as well as by Nikos Kazantzakis and other modern Greek writers.
Reed worked with documentarist Jean-Daniel Lafond on two documentary films: Salam Iran, a Persian Letter and American Fugitive. The two later collaborated on Conversations in Tehran (Talonbooks, 2006). He is currently working on a memoir. Fred A. Reed resides in Montréal.
- Winner, Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation
“A monumental study of the stories that have shaped the narrative identity of Western civilization and its vision of the world, Truth or Death: The Quest for Immortality in the Western Narrative Tradition by Thierry Hentsch is, first and foremost, a celebration of the act of (re)reading designed to spark renewed interest in the narrative texts that constitute Western consciousness, along with the truths upon which it reposes… Taking its cue from the original, Fred A. Reed’s magnificent translation offers a sophisticated, intellectually engaged, eminently readable retelling of Hentsch’s retelling of the West’s founding narratives.”
— University of Toronto Quarterly
“All those who wonder what is a classic, or who simply wish to re-establish contact with the sources of the Western narrative tradition, will find here a work of great depth, magnificently written.”
– Le Devoir
“Hentsch’s book gives a new meaning to the experience of reading itself as the medium that keeps meaning alive in our lives and connects us to our past. At the same time, the book brings to comparison the two most important modes of expressing meanings i.e. narrative and philosophy.”
“This is an eminently readable translation of Thierry Hentsch’s book, which awakens in us a desire to return to the great literary classics of western civilization and see them with fresh eyes. Thanks to his breadth of knowledge and superb command of language, Fred A. Reed has demonstrated the very story-telling skills celebrated in the original text.”
– Governor General’s Awards Jury, 2005
Other titles by Thierry Hentsch
Other titles by Fred A. Reed
The Green Chamber
Zora, A Cruel Tale
Takeover in Tehran ebook
The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture
Shattered Images ebook
Then We Were One ebook
Then We Were One
Imperial Canada Inc.
Legal Haven of Choice for the World's Mining Industries
A Covenant of Salt e-book
Empire of Desire
The Abolition of Time