This book is surprisingly modern. Being a spiritual autobiography along the lines of C. S. Lewis's "Surprised by Joy," or Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," it is a targeted story about one man's relationship with God.
I say surprisingly modern in that Augustine could make a frictionless slide into modern society. As a youth, he was raised primarily by his spiritual mother, hung out in a gang called "The Wreckers," spent all of his free time in the town square waiting the theatrical performances, and stole pears just for the buzz and the rush of doing it.
Well, this book is 1,500 years old, but you would never know it. There is a case to be mad with what philosophers call "The Human Predicament," which is the term used to describe the same ruts that humanity always seems to get in-war, death, poverty, corruption, secret combinations in government, an so forth.
However, Augustine's life illustrates what I would call the "The Solution to The Human Predicament." The answer lies not in looking left or right, or backwards or forwards, but in looking up. If you are familiar with the bell curve-not the controversial book, but the scientific model used in statistics-you see that one-half, or 50% of the people you deal with are below average. You can almost count off "one, two, one, two" as you ride on the bus, or drive on the highway. And the rest of the three-quarters in a democracy will outvote the twenty-five percent of the people who are really smart.
So you see that Augustine had the answer to the problems we face. Get God into your life. You can see the outward effects of the internal conversion in Augustine. Before he found God, he lifted pears just for kicks, after he found God, he received a pair of kicks that lifted him up, and changed his behavior.
This book is also important in another way. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk, and Augustine's conversion experiences were a pattern and prototype for Luther.
The translation is readable, and like always, Penguin has great notes that put the book in its proper context and in the context of the life of its author.
Saint Augustine's "Confessions" is a very beautiful and fascinant book that narrates, as his title suggests, in a sincere and humble way, the spiritual journey and conversion of the author from darkness to light, vice to virtue, and error to the truth of the catholic faith, proving that saints, even the greatest and wisest as Augustine, are also simple and common men (sinners) ruled by an imperfect human nature. Really, after the read of this book, it is impossible to deny that each one of us have something of Augustine in his own character, and this is one of the greats merits of the "Confessions".
A real classic, essentially an intimate and personal work, it simultaneously develops some of the major concepts that influenced decisively western civilization for fifteen centuries (the essence of God and His role on creation, the universality of moral law, the decayed human nature or the notion of free wiil, for example), which is one more reason to recommend that book to every person interested in west's religion, moral,philosophy and law. Five stars!