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The Truth of Mankind

The Truth of Mankind

Reflections on Girardian Theory

By Cesáreo Bandera

234 pp

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About the Book

The Truth of Mankind draws on Cesáreo Bandera’s long lifetime of critical experience and literary scholarship. Bandera is not only a celebrated and distinguished interpreter of Latin and Greek literature, of Cervantes and Calderón, and many other seminal figures, but was also a friend and colleague of the late René Girard, the celebrated Catholic theorist of the “scapegoat mechanism” as the fundamental logic underlying all human communities and polities; and in the field of literary studies, he is considered a decisive interlocutor of Girard.

Through striking readings of Biblical texts, of Cervantes, of Virgil, and, above all, of Girard’s own works, Bandera raises a fundamental question about Girard’s theory. Can it really, as Girard himself thought, be articulated in a way that does not rely on any particular theological standpoint? Or is it instead, as Bandera argues, intimately dependent on the revealed truth of Christ on the cross—a revealed truth which Girard, as a believing Catholic, himself confessed? 

The Truth of Mankind will be of interest not only to all who wish to understand Girard’s thinking and its relationship to Christianity, but also to anyone seeking to understand how Christianity can address the most urgent social and ethical questions faced by human life on this planet.


“This engaging book is an intellectually stimulating and deeply personal look at Girard, his ideas, and the Catholic faith that animates him.” —JEAN-MICHEL OUGHOURLIAN


“Cesáreo Bandera’s radical reading ‘finishes off’ the scientism that threatens mimetic theory and refocuses it on the person of Christ. It is in this way the voice of the ‘last Doctor of the Church’ who Bandera masterfully restores and makes heard.” —BENOÎT CHANTRE


“Cesáreo Bandera’s book challenges the anthropological apology of Christianity that his friend René Girard undertook in his unfolding of mimetic theory by showing how it depends on a theocentric or even Christocentric origin.” —WOLFGANG PALAVER


“Challenging Girard’s repeated claim that his theory is exclusively scientific with the help of wonderful analyses of Virgil’s Aeneid, Bandera, like the Latin poet, asks the right questions; but unlike him, provides answers.” —PAUL DUMOUCHEL


“Cesáreo Bandera’s critical appraisal of his longtime friend, carried out in defense of the Girardian legacy—‘probably the most important anthropological discovery of our time’—is filled with brilliant insights.” —GIL BAILIE


“Bandera deftly probes the issues of religion and science, faith and reason, persuasively challenging many an uncritical conception of this fraught entanglement. As a result, the relations of mimetic anthropology and Biblical revelation are on reset.” —ANDREW J. MCKENNA


The Truth of Mankind might more aptly be titled Mimetic Theory and Christ. From the book’s opening pages, Bandera makes clear that he wishes to explore ‘the deeply problematic relationship between Girard’s perfectly orthodox understanding of Christian doctrine, on one hand, and the scientific findings of his anthropology on the other.’” —JOHN J. RANIERI

About the Author

CESÁREO BANDERA is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages at the University of North Carolina, former Director of the Program in Comparative Literature at SUNY Buffalo, and former President of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. His previous works include Mimesis Conflictiva, The Sacred Game, and A Refuge of Lies.

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