Before religious philosopher Louis Dupré began his long tenure at Yale, he wrote on Marx. Then came his religious phenomenology and study of mysticism. More recently, he has worked on a long survey of Western religious thought. Behind this varied scholarly output is the haunting concern of how to apprehend God in the midst of all the intellectual forces that obscure his presence.

The Quest of the Absolute is the third volume in a series Dupré began in 1993 with Passage to Modernity, a study of ideas of “nature and culture” from the High Middle Ages to the Baroque era. He followed this in 2005 with The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture, by this point displaying the wide-ranging intellectual grasp and comparative focus of someone like Ernst Cassirer. With the present volume, Dupré brings his story into the nineteenth century and ­Romanticism.

Across the breadth of this grand survey, the question of where God lurks within the intellectual constructs of philosophers, theologians, and poets drives the analysis. Dupré is not interested in the issue of what God is doing with us but rather with the ways in which we continually ­re-perceive God in new cultural eras, with all the possible ­discoveries—and distortions—this may involve.

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