Criticism of Heaven


Happened to stumble upon this review of Criticism of Heaven:

What a brilliant, wide-ranging, boundary-scoffing book. Boer rampages through Western Marxist thought for almost 500 pages, dissecting and challenging the theological and Biblical aspects that are part of the approach of these thinkers. Fine. Others have noted such influence. What’s magnificent is that by the end, Boer’s helped you understand these major, fascinating figures more deeply and also inspired you to think about the continued possibilities as we move forward from here to seek to build a better world.

I’m not sure how many people are anxious to read 50-page chunks on the theological/Biblical aspects of Bloch, Benjamin, Althusser, Lefebvre, Gramsci, Eagleton, Zizek, and Adorno. But if you think that might be you, hie thee to your browser and order this delight from Haymarket Books.

It is on Goodreads and has given me a swollen head and rather good feeling for the rest of the day.

On Friday, the biggie arrived: Criticism of Heaven: The Author’s Cut.

How big? It weighs in at 765 pages – that’s 270 more than the abridged version from 2007:

In other words, the original text, with a shitload of detailed argument, is restored. I’ll soon have information on where this one can be found.

But I thought it should join its mates, two other books also published a couple of months ago:

More than 1300 pages of my verbiage this year alone, but who’s counting?

One more newie to go this year:

Some shameless self-promotion in a year that is becoming a little ludicrous in terms of books published.

The first book now available is Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels and Theology.

This is volume 4 of the ‘The Criticism of Heaven and Earth’ series. As the blurb puts it:

Criticism of Earth thoroughly reassesses Marx and Engels’s engagement with theology, drawing on largely ignored texts. Thus, alongside ‘opium of the people’, Hegel’s philosophy of law, and the Feuerbach theses, other works are also central. These include Marx’s early pieces on theology, continual transformations of fetishism, and lengthy treatments of Bruno Bauer and Max Stirner. Engels too is given serious attention, since he moved beyond Marx in appreciating theology’s revolutionary possibilities. Engels’s Calvinism is discussed, his treatments of biblical criticism and theology, and his later writings on early Christianity’s revolutionary nature. The book continues the project for a renewed and enlivened interaction between Marxism and religion, being the fourth of five volumes in the Criticism of Heaven and Earth series.

Even though the euro is not doing so well these days, €99.00 is still a reasonable hit for a book. I must admit that Brill has a business model that has worked for over three centuries – it was established during the heyday of the first great capitalist power, the Netherlands. What to do? I suggest three or four strategies:

1. Dig a rich aunt for some cash, or request it as a birthday or Christmas present from your parents and/or children.

2. Order it for a library you know.

3. Wait for the paperback from Haymarket.

4. Wait for the pdf on one of those reputable Russian book sites.

The second book published is Nick Cave: A Study of Love, Death and Apocalypse.

I’m told the paperback should be out soonish, but otherwise see above. The blurb:

This study analyses the work of Nick Cave, a singular, idiosyncratic and brilliant musician, specifically through his engagements with theology and the Bible. It does so not merely in terms of his written work, the novels and plays and poetry and lyrics that he continues to produce, but also the music itself. Covering more than three decades of extraordinarily diverse creativity, the book has seven chapters focusing on: the modes in which Cave engages with the Bible; the total depravity of the worlds invoked in his novels and other written work; the consistent invocation of apocalyptic themes; his restoration of death as a valid dimension of life; the twists of the love song; the role of a sensual and heretical Christ; and then a detailed, dialectical analysis of his musical forms. The book draws upon a select number of theorists who provide the methodological possibilities of digging deep into the theological nature of Cave’s work, namely Ernst Bloch, who is the methodological foundation stone, as well as Theodor Adorno, Theodore Gracyk and Jacques Attali.

And a third one, although this is the paperback of Criticism of Theology: On Marxism and Theology III.

This one is very affordable via those nice lefties at Haymarket Books. The blurb:

Criticism of Theology provides a detailed and critical commentary on the continued fascination with religion by yet more significant Marxist philosophers, historians and critics: Max Horkheimer, E.P. Thompson, G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, Michael Löwy, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Antonio Negri. Simultaneously critique and construction, Criticism of Theology carefully analyses their work through close textual readings, with a view to locating hidden gems that may be developed further.

Soon to come, but available for pre-order, is The Earthy Nature of the Bible: Fleshly Readings of Sex, Masculinity and Carnality.

I have just received the cover image:

And the fourth one for this year, Criticism of Heaven: The Author’s Cut. This one has the full original text, with 250 pages and the original cadences restored.


A few weeks ago I sent the ‘author’s cut’ version of Criticism of Heaven off to the publishers – CCLM Publishing, in the Sino-Christian Studies Monograph Series. This is the full, original version, with the 100,000 words I originally had to cut restored to the text. Whole slabs of chapters are now restored, the original, longish conclusion is back, the book has been carefully edited and various earlier slips corrected, etc. Anyway, I had a question from the typesetter: he wonders whether the title, Criticism of Heaven: The Author’s Cut, is a good idea. Or rather, he is not sure about ‘The Author’s Cut’ bit. I must admit I like it, but (most) suggestions appreciated.

Never enough shameless self-promotion: the cover for the Turkish translation of Criticism of Heaven has just been sent to me …

It should be out by November, published in a series by Ayrinti Yayinlari on religion and radicalism – includes Bloch’s Atheism in Christianity and Thomas Müntzer.

Shameless self-promotion, I know, but I have just received word that Criticism of Heaven is being translated into Turkish. Contracts have been signed and the translator is raring to go (I hope). To be published by Ayrinti Yayinlari. That’s the eleventh language!

The final editing is underway for the author’s cut of Criticism of Heaven. It’s a massive fucking manuscript, weighing in at over 100,000 words (more than 200 pages) longer than the one published (which came to 500 pages).

As some know, when the editors of the HM series first got back to me, they said, ‘Roland, can you maybe shave about 100,000 words from the manuscript?’  Yeah sure. I did it while in Bulgaria, but have always wanted to get the original author’s cut published in some way. Hoping to have it ready by February so I can get it to the publisher.

If you happen to be in Copenhagen on coming Monday, 25 October …

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Place: Kælderbaren, Det Teologiske Fakultet, Købmagergade 44-46 (Copenhagen) – that is, the student bar, which every theology faculty or department should have.

You’ll find it on this map:

Talks: a short one by me, a reponse by Geert Hallbäck and an autograph from the translator (CP)

Feature: discount versions of this Danish bestseller

Subsequent interesting activity: drinks out on the town (Copenhagen)

Date: Monday 25 October 2010

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Place: Kælderbaren, Det Teologiske Fakultet, Købmagergade 44-46 (Copenhagen) – that is, the student bar, which every theology faculty or department should have.

Talks: a short one by me, a reponse by Geert Hallbäck and an autograph from the translator (CP)

Feature: discount versions of this Danish bestseller

Subsequent interesting activity: drinks out on the town (Copenhagen)

(A few weeks before this, there is a book launch in Sofia for the Bulgarian translation of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – more info soon for those of you who will happen to be in Bulgaria, 26 Sept-2 Oct.)

The Danish translation of Criticism of Heaven has arrived on our doorstep. The press, ANIS, has done a very nice job of this one, as you can see from my earlier notice. And should you wish to purchase this ably translated number, then all you need do is visit one of the Danish online booksellers, such as G.DK.

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