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Ex Voto   By: (1835-1902)

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Ex Voto by Samuel Butler is an introspective and thought-provoking collection of essays that explores the meaning and complexities of religion, morality, and human nature. With his characteristic wit and intellectual depth, Butler delves into various religious beliefs and practices, often challenging conventional notions and inviting readers to question deeply ingrained traditions.

While the title, Ex Voto, refers to votive offerings made to a religious deity, the essays in this book go beyond mere religious observance. Butler examines the historical and cultural context behind various religious rituals, shedding light on their origins and evolution. He seamlessly weaves mythology, philosophy, and history together, illustrating the interconnectedness of these disciplines in shaping one's worldview.

One of the most captivating aspects of Ex Voto is Butler's ability to present his ideas with both clarity and nuance. He raises important ethical questions without resorting to dogmatic assertions, allowing readers to form their own conclusions. This intellectual honesty encourages critical thinking and makes for a more engaging reading experience.

Throughout the book, Butler challenges the traditional understanding of religion, arguing that its evolution is closely tied to human progression rather than divine revelation. He seamlessly transitions from discussing ancient mythologies to examining contemporary religious practices, always imbuing his analysis with a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the human experience.

In some essays, Butler delves into his personal experiences and struggles with faith, recounting moments of doubt and moments of transcendence. These introspective passages not only add a personal touch to the book but also allow readers to relate on a more intimate level. His vulnerability invites readers to reflect on their own spiritual journeys, encouraging a deeper exploration of the self.

Ex Voto is a beautifully written and intellectually stimulating collection of essays. Butler's eloquence and expertise shine through in every page, making it an enjoyable read for both academics and general readers interested in philosophy, history, and religious studies. It invites readers to question deeply entrenched beliefs and encourages introspection, ultimately leaving a lasting impression long after the book is finished.

First Page:



The illustrations to this book are mainly collotype photographs by Messrs. Maclure, Macdonald & Co., of Glasgow. Notwithstanding all their care, it cannot be pretended that the result is equal to what would have been obtained from photogravure; I found, however, that to give anything like an adequate number of photogravures would have made the book so expensive that I was reluctantly compelled to abandon the idea.

As these sheets leave my hands, my attention is called to a pleasant article by Miss Alice Greene about Varallo, that appeared in The Queen for Saturday, April 21, 1888. The article is very nicely illustrated, and gives a good idea of the place. Of the Sacro Monte Miss Greene says: "On the Sacro Monte the tableaux are produced in perpetuity, only the figures are not living, they are terra cotta statues painted and moulded in so life like a way that you feel that, were a man of flesh and blood to get mixed up with the crowd behind the grating, you would have hard work to distinguish him from the figures that have never had life."

I should wish to modify in some respects the conclusion arrived at on pp. 148, 149, about Michael Angelo Rossetti's having been the principal sculptor of the Massacre of the Innocents chapel... Continue reading book >>

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