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Truth or Death
Print Edition
Canadian Customers

$29.95 CDN

US & International Customers

$39.95 US

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Monday March 29, 2010 in Books

Truth or Death
The Quest for Immortality in the Western Narrative Tradition

By Thierry Hentsch
Translated by Fred A. Reed

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.

ISBN 13: 9780889225091 | ISBN 10: 889225095
6 W x 9 H x 1 D inches | 416 pages
$29.95 CAN / $39.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Non-Fiction | Bisac: LIT007000


“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

“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.”

— Bookpleasures.com

“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

“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

“Gives a powerful urge to return to the great stories.”

— Le Temps(Geneva)_

“By warning the reader against the danger of losing faith in the power of stories, and in the power of the imagination, Thierry Hentsch proves that myth is not dead, that man still seeks to understand, through stories and in the form of a story, his relationship with existence and with death.”

— Spirale


Winner of the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation

About the Contributors

Thierry Hentsch

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. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.

Empire of Desire

Thierry Hentsch
Translated by Fred A. Reed

Truth or Death

Thierry Hentsch
Translated by Fred A. Reed

Copyright Talonbooks 1963-2018



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