IF THINE EYE OFFEND THEE by Heinrich Shirmbeck
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At one point in this estimable modern philosophical novel the central character and narrator says, ""Man is not yet sufficiently mature to use the boundless power that the physicists have placed at his disposal"". The statement serves as the thesis of the novel and is echoed by Thomas Grey's teacher, the Prince de Bary, one of Europe's most illustrious scientists: ""...the poets of today are to be found in our laboratories ...they are peering into the bowels of matter and releasing the flames of the Apocalypse"". The central issue involves the efforts of Grey and the Prince in resisting the forces of political expediency which would put the results of their research to destructive uses. But the conflict is never one of simple machination. The concerns of physics and theology are now equal; what is relevant to the one is vastly altering to the other. Imprisoned for his loyalty to the Prince, Grey unfolds the story of his unusual life - centering on the intellectual turmoil of his apprenticeship in Sybaris (supposedly Paris) and his relationships with the various dramatic and worthy women whom he might have loved if he were able. Grey ends his account in the realization that there is no escape from the world: ""I may not pluck out the eye that offends me; for to be worthy of the world is to look it in the face."" If only for its profound moral concern If Thine Eye Offend Thee would be a major book; it is at the same time written dramatically and with intellectual brilliance. It has been translated from the German and has been exceptionally well-received in Europe.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1961
Publisher: Simon & Schuster