The book “Anthology of English Literature” mainly emphasizes on literature in the western world. The book was first published in the year 1962 after which it has gone through various editions. Out of all the anthologies published by Norton, it is the best selling of all with the highest number of printed copies. M. H. Abrams a romanticism scholar and a major critic of the book edited the first seven books.
Stephen Greenblatt, a professor in Harvard University, edited the rest of the anthologies. The book is divided into two sets comprising of six volumes. The anthologies express issues of drama and poetry.
The thirteen autobiographical books written between AD 397 and AD 398 by St. Augustine are commonly referred to as the confessions. English translations in the modern world mainly use the title “The Confessions of St. Augustine” to make them different with other books that use the same title (St Augustine 10).
Confession during St. Augustine’s time implied two things. Confessions meant giving out individual’s faults directly to God as well as confessing the love that an individual holds to God. The story is about his ascent from a sinful nature to a faithful person who can be relied upon by the entire community. The Confessions of St Augustine is mainly concerned with the life history of St.
Augustine right from child hood. During his youth, he engaged in a series of sinful cases until he later became a Christian convert at the age of 29. This is the first autobiography to be written in the western world, which acted as an inspiration to many Christian writers. However, the book is not a competent autobiography because it covers his life up to forty years although he stayed for many years.
According to his work, St. Augustine regrets because of the sinful and immoral life that he led during his youth. First, he regrets for joining the Manichaean religion that was founded by Prophet Mani. This occurred during his studies at Carthage. The religion described the universe as the struggle between a good spiritual world of light and a material world of darkness governed by the evil.
The beliefs of this religion are contrary to the Christian belief. He also regrets for believing in astrology, a belief that a relationship between the solar system and events that take place in human life exists. In this case, human beings predict the personality or life history of a child depending on the position of the sun, moon, and stars at times of birth in the western world.
Other cultures also attach important events based on the position of astronomical events. Indians, Mayan and Chinese cultures have elaborate ways of predicting what will happen depending on the observations made in the universe.
Nebridius played a major role in St. Augustine’s life for he convinced him that astrology was both evil and wrong. He regretted for sexual sins that he committed which he was unhappy with and encouraged people to avoid sexual immorality at all times (St Augustine 118).
Augustine was once in a group of bad companions who engaged in theft and luxuries. This was ironical for him because he came from a good family where he had never missed food. He could not see the reason why he and his friends stole peers whereas he had better ones because some of the peers were thrown to be eaten by pigs and the taste was not that pleasing.
He argues that, if it were not for the bad company that he joined, he could not have engaged in theft cases but this was mainly because of peer pressure. Between the ages of 20 and 29, he was grieved by the death of his friend, which happened in his absence. During this period, he began to hate all the things that he loved because they acted as remembrance of the things they used to do with his late friend (Clinton 1119).
Neo-Platonism was the other influence that led to the conversion of St. Augustine apart from the bible. This included several texts that he read towards his conversion. Neo-Platonist holds the belief that the universe is hierarchical but the components of the universe are neither bad nor evil. This implies that everything that exists in the universe is good.
This is the opposite of the ever-changing matter in the universe. Christian’s belief that God is eternal never changes and unified. He went ahead and combine Christian and neoplatonic views. In his hybrid system, he maintained that all creatures that exist regardless of how ugly or nasty they might are God’s creations.
He called for respect and full care of all creatures because they were created to serve a particular reason (St Augustine 131).
St. Augustine’s confession acts as a great encouragement to wrong doers. God forgives those who repent regardless of the sin that one has committed. People should repent their sins and change from the bad behavior after which God will forgive and count them as his children.
People should learn to be in good company always because bad company ruins the good behavior of an individual because of influence from each other just as Augustine has resulted into stealing even though he had all that he needed. I believe that the reason behind St. Augustine emphasizing that he should continue to sin even after conversion is that he thinks that he cannot be forgiven for the huge damages he has caused.
For instance, he has wasted lives of many people who he had abused sexually. In addition to this, it is very difficult for him to part with the bad company he had been in touch with for a long period. Peer pressure is likely to be a major problem. His book is a continuous confession machine because it has a series of confessions that he made one after the other (St Augustine 140).
The absolute belief in religious authority as well as legal reinforcement of religious authority is what is commonly referred to as fundamentalism. In this case, an individual willingly enters into a battle of faith. This includes a group that is wholly devoted to a specific religious group by following values and beliefs of the religion. Religion should not be forced to individuals by the government.
People should be allowed to choose whether to follow the religion commonly used in the country or not. St. Augustine’s was not forced to become a Christian convert but he was influenced by the Christian virtues and chose to leave his immoral behavior to a good citizen.
It is therefore wrong for a nation to impose rules governing religion because a true follower from of any religion must have the passion from his heart (Clinton 1125).
In conclusion, religion is a very important aspect as it moulds the behavior of people. Once exposed to religion, immoral people change into good and reliable people in the society. The society should encourage its citizens on the importance of the religious doctrine that teaches of the expected virtues in the society. For instance, the religious institutions discourage vices like stealing and sexual immorality.
Clinton, Jerome. et al. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Volume 1 & 2: Second Shorter Edition. New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company. 2009. Print.
St. Augustine. On Christian Doctrine. OrthodoxExbooks. 2001.