“The possibility of incurring guilt is the ultimate existential threat for every person.”
There are some authors who make you think, “I could just read this guy for the rest of my life. He’d bring me to greater and greater levels of wisdom and understanding.” Pieper is such a writer. I haven’t spent my life reading him, not even after stumbling upon him 20 years ago. I haven’t even read all his books, though I’ve wrestled with the majority of this German’s canon. “Short and thick.” That’s most of his books. You can’t get through a Pieper book quickly any more than you can fly through poetry, or run through an art museum, or gulp fine wine, or make love to your bride in less than 30 seconds. All such things are possible, sure, but they’re all acts of desecration: violations of a thing’s goodness. But if you’re the desecrating type (and aren’t we all, at least a little?), Pieper is ready for you, too. He put together the Anthology, choosing from his private papers, his published papers, and his books. Some people make sure they read a particular book every year. I know a guy who reads Boswell’s Life of Johnson every year, and I know another guy who reads Shakespeare’s plays every year. Those are two blessed dudes with ample reading time, but I’d be lying if I said I’d do the same thing. Such dedication takes a certain mojo that I don’t have in me. But if I could re-read the same book every year, it might be Pieper’s Anthology.