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The Rosary [Hardcover]

By Gary Wills (Author)
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Item Number 153636  
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Item description for The Rosary by Gary Wills...

A simple strand of beads and a crucifix, the rosary has been one of the most popular aids to prayer, contemplation and religious worship for centuries. In this fascinating and informative book, Garry Wills looks at the meaning of the beads and at the mysteries, or events, in the life of Jesus and Mary that they are meant to signify. In an age where self-help methods abound, and meditation is a common prescriptive, Wills reminds us that the rosary is the original self-help guide, a "timely and timeless" method for reconnecting with ourselves and with Christ.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Viking Adult
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.19" Width: 5.59" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   0.93 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2005
Publisher   Viking Adult
ISBN  0670034495  
ISBN13  9780670034499  
UPC  051488024958  

Availability  0 units.

More About Gary Wills

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Garry Wills is one of the most respected writers on religion today. He is the author of Saint Augustine s Childhood, Saint Augustine s Memory, and Saint Augustine s Sin, the first three volumes in this series, as well as the Penguin Lives biography Saint Augustine. His other books include Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, which won the Pulitzer Prize."

Garry Wills was born in 1934 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Northwestern University.

Garry Wills has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities
  2. Emblems of Antiquity
  3. Lives of Great Religious Books
  4. Penguin Classics
  5. Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
  6. Penguin Lives Biographies
  7. Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Coetzee, J.M.
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
4Books > Subjects > Romance > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Rosary?

An interesting read  Mar 14, 2008
Gary Wills traces what he can verify of the history of the rosary as prayers beads and glosses over any spiritual inspiration in its origin. He analyzes most of the elements of the rosary including four of the prayers and the mysteries associated with it. He neglects to mention the Fatima Prayer. But he does discuss the biblical scriptures behind the rosary and the human need for contemplation. The work does show some of his problems with some Catholic beliefs. This seems to be his personal understanding that he shares with us.
Great !!!  Sep 3, 2006
Wills writes a great book that is good for both Catholics and non-Catholics. He writes in an enjoyable and engaging style. Has a nice chapter going into depth on each of the 20 mysteries. I have loaned it to a few close friends one from an Anglican Background and one Mennonite both enjoyed the book and found it very useful. A book can not receive more praise than that.
Beautifully put together, well-written, and transformative  Jul 5, 2006
This is the only book I can recall having read in one sitting! It was simply that enjoyable. An entire chapter is devoted to each mystery. Wills uses beautiful artwork from a 16th century Venetian artist (Tintoretto) and quotes from the likes of Pope John Paul II and Chesterton to illuminate the various mysteries. Wills integrates historical information with his own thoughtful exegeses on relevant New Testament passages.

The writing and organization of the book are both very clear and logical. It is full of beautiful illustrations of Tintoretto's works in both color and black and white.

The focus of this book is on the mysteries themselves and there is only one chatper on the historical background. Some Catholics may critisize Wills for his approach to the history of the Rosary because he does not go into the legend that credits St. Dominic as having received the Rosary from Mary herself. Wills does not outright deny the legend. He points to evidence that the history of praying a psalter of Our Fathers and Hail Marys predates St. Dominic and that the habit of meditating upon the mysteries post-dates him. This is not to say that St. Dominic did not receive a vision from Mary and that he did not play an important role in the history of the Rosary. It is possible to reconcile the historical with the legendary. Also lack of faith in the legendary origins of the Rosary is not necessarily anti-Church as faith in such revelations has always been left to individuals' discretion. This is probably why he also leaves out the prayer taught by Our Lady of Fatima. For the book to have incorporated all this information it would have become unwieldly and too ambitious.

I appreciate Wills' conscience choice to present the book as it is, because it seems to me that the goal of the book is to be an introduction to the Rosary, a primer. The heart of the Rosary is in its ancient structure of Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Doxology. The key is proper meditation upon the mysteries. Wills explains the above prayers quite well and gives beautiful explanations of the mysteries that will help one to begin a lifetime of meditation. Reading this book has certainly transformed my devotion to the Rosary for the better.

If after reading Wills' book you want to know more about the history of the Rosary, Wills has suggested background reading listed in the back. Also I would recommend "The Secret of the Rosary" by St. Louis De Monfort. In this book the more legendary origins of the Rosary (involving St. Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche) which require faith to accept, are discussed at length.
Peculiar and perplexing  May 26, 2006
While I'm generally a fan of Garry Wills, this is one peculiar little book.

"The Rosary" is a book bound to please no one. Traditional Catholics are unlikely to be impressed by Wills' pooh-poohing of the rosary's legendary origins - as legend has it, directly from the Virgin into the hands of Saint Dominic. And less will they be interested in his explication of the eschatological perspective of the Lord's Prayer. Wills' other audience - liberals, progressives and Protestants -- are unlikely to be drawn to the rosary in the first place.

Then again, Wills made some odd choices about the book's organization. On the positive side, Wills lays out the Mysteries in order: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful (which term Wills can't leave alone, calling "Sad") and Glorious. But rosary lovers are often drawn to the art work that illustrates the mysteries. Wills does the same, but with a twist that blunts the effect. He is evidently besotted with the work of Renaissance painter Tintoretto. His idea is to accompany each mystery of the rosary by one of this master's paintings. Unfortunately, Tintoretto didn't paint a Pentecost or a Crowning with Thorns or a Sermon on the Mount. But Wills' monomania about Tintoretto schema requires him to substitute other paintings or to omit an illustration altogether.

Still, there are items of interest. The explanation of the Lord's Prayer is helpful to those seeking an insight into the eschatological side of Christ's teaching. And Wills' more-or-less literal translation of Mark's gospel makes evident that writer's lack of fluency with Greek.

But for all his attempts to get nearer the mystery of Christ, Wills often goes astray. Translating the "glory of God" as "the dazzle of God" misses the mark significantly. And Wills' descriptions of the paintings, while poetic, don't seem to describe the same art I was looking at. In "Christ Carrying the Cross," Wills completely misidentifies the figure supposed to be Simon of Cyrene.

I would love it Wills had written a corrective to the hyper-pious drivel that is often published about the rosary. But in the end, "The Rosary" is less a work about that beloved and ancient prayer form than about Wills' personal journey of faith and understanding. As such, it might have been better left in a personal diary than released to the mass market.
A Rosary Primer for the Ages  Apr 18, 2006
As one reads this book it becomes very clear that Mr. Wills is not a traditional or orthodox Catholic. All through the book he takes little digs at various Catholic beliefs and even uses the term absurd to describe one bit of Church teaching. Don't allow this to turn you off to what the author is saying however for the message to be found in this book is both quite powerful and quite positive. In fact, this book contains one of the most pertinent arguments that I have seen in a long time concerning the benefits of praying the Rosary.

Mr. Wills begins with a history of this grand old prayer of the Church and he does an excellent job of explaining the origin of the Rosary itself and of it's various components. Most devotees of the Rosary realize that some additions such as the Fatima Prayer are fairly recent but even among the people most devoted to the Rosary most of it's history is shrouded in the mist of time. Wills clears the mist so that we can all see clearly how one of our favorite devotions came into being.

After taking the reader through the history of the Rosary the author then proceeds to explain each mystery one at a time. As he does so the author tells us of his own reflections concerning each mystery and then describes in detail the paintings depicting most of the mysteries by Jacobo Tintoretto. These marvelous paintings are included in full color and these images alone are worth the price of the book.

Wills does a fine job of reflecting on each of the mysteries but his main theme is the importance of the entire Rosary to post Vatican II Catholics. He points out that this wonderful prayer is often scoffed at by modern Catholics as an "old ladies prayer" or as simple minded repetition but that it is neither of these things and if prayed correctly the Rosary will certainly lead to closer relationship with God. If anything, Wills argues, the Rosary may be even more important today than it ever has been because it gives us a chance to take a break from our fast paced world and simply meditate on the wonders of our faith.

Anyone who is devoted to the Rosary will certainly find new insights within the pages of this book and any Catholic who thinks that the Rosary is an outdated prayer will find a powerful argument to the contrary. This book belongs in every Catholic's personal library and I assure you that you will refer to it often.

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