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Relic (Object Lessons)

Relic (Object Lessons)

Current price: $14.95
Publication Date: January 11th, 2024
Bloomsbury Academic
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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Every culture, every religion, every era has enshrined otherwise regular objects with a significance which stretches beyond their literal importance. Whether the bone of a Catholic martyr, the tooth of a Buddhist lama, or the cloak of a Sufi saint, relics are material conduits to the immaterial world. Yet relics aren't just a feature of religion. The exact same sense of the transcendent animates objects of political, historical, and cultural significance.

From Abraham Lincoln's death mask to Vladimir Lenin's embalmed corpse, Emily Dickinson's envelopes to Jimi Hendrix's guitar pick, relics are the objects which the faithful understand as being more than just objects. Material things of sacred importance, relics are indicative of a culture's deepest values.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

About the Author

Ed Simon is editor of Belt Magazine and emeritus staff writer at The Millions. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review Daily, The Public Domain Review, The Hedgehog Review, JSTOR Daily, McSweeney's, Jacobin, The New Republic, Religion Dispatches, Killing the Buddha, and The Washington Post, among dozens of others. He is the author of over a dozen books, including Pandemonium: A Visual History of Demonology.