Wonder in Modern Life

Patrick Curry


Quick Look

  • Explores the profound human experience of enchantment, and discusses how it plays out in a wide range of contexts
  • Argues that modernist attempts to undermine or dismiss enchantment as a delusion are not only misguided but dangerous
  • Patrick Curry is a respected author and has been a lecturer at the Universities of Kent, Bath Spa and Trinity Saint David

This unique book explores how enchantment plays out in a wide range of contexts – in love, art, religion and learning, in food and drink, and perhaps most significantly in our relationship with the natural world.

Floris Books
Philosophy of Human Life; Mind, Body, Spirit
152 pages
Publication date:
17 Oct 2019


Enchantment is a profound human experience. When we encounter wonder, awe or amazement, that is enchantment. Enchantment can reveal profound truths, lead to deep values and become central to a life well-lived.

This unique book explores how enchantment plays out in a wide range of contexts -- in love, art, religion and learning, in food and drink, and perhaps most significantly in our relationship with the natural world.

Patrick Curry argues that modernist attempts to undermine or dismiss enchantment as a delusion are not only misguided but dangerous, potentially leading to a disengagement with our world that could have disastrous consequences for our future on this planet.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Dynamics of Enchantment
3. Love
4. Art
5. Religion
6. Food and Drink
7. Learning
8. Nature
9. Disenchantment
10. Technoscience
11. Enchantment as a Way of Life
A Bibliographical Note


'Patrick Curry's study is insightful about uncovenanted blessings that bring delight. It also resonates with current ecological concerns and critiques of technology and economic "rationality" as the measure of human value.'
-- Bernice Martin, The Times Literary Supplement

'This is a delightful, not to say enchanting book about enchantment and the possibilities for wonder in modern life in an era increasingly characterised by disenchantment... The text is beautifully woven, with many magical excerpts and episodes from the author's wide reading and extensive experience... A crucial reminder of what represents real quality of life.'
-- David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network

'I found the book thought-provoking while at the same time relishing its clarity and accessibility -- it can be so hard to talk about this subject without delving in to all kinds of abstract or arcane language -- and in the end, uplifting, for I felt it opened a way in for people who might be suspicious of the philosophical and religious sides of this experience.'
-- Professor John Burnside, St. Andrews University

'Patrick Curry suggests that the opposite of enchantment is not disenchantment but glamour. Like Jung when he stated that the opposite of love is not hatred but power, Curry shows how glamour is a fabricated, false, fake version of enchantment. His demonstration is extremely convincing. Reading him, one feels like opening one's eyes wider.'
-- Ginette Paris, author of The Wisdom of the Psyche

'Curry's Enchantment is simply an enchanting book, built on the wonder of our relationship with existence. It is lyrically written for all who have been enchanted, and draws on his own experiences. It encourages each of us to consider the wonder and love we are gifted -- and can return.'
-- Haydn Washington, author of A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature

'As Patrick Curry argues eloquently in his thoughtful examination of the human condition in these challenging modern times, "enchantment is an experience of wonder". This is no mere academic exercise, although he is surprisingly erudite in his choice of texts, writers and cultural icons to illustrate his thoughts on this vital feature of being fully human. Nor is this a fluffy 'New Age' extended essay on how much better this world would be if we were all nice to each other. Much of the material is philosophical or poetic in nature, drawn from inspirational writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Max Weber, and W.H. Auden. Although mainly positive in tone, Curry does not hold back from stating things as they are. He is passionately scathing in denunciation of elements in the present world that seek to enslave the human race as little more than robots.'
-- Magonia Review

'What could be more confounding than trying to understand 'enchantment', an uncanny power that by its very nature frustrates all comprehension? Yet in this small volume Patrick Curry accomplishes much. If we join him as he tracks several of the numberless styles of enchantment, if we pay heed to his insights and sometimes argue with him, we'll find ourselves slowly becoming more layered within ourselves, wiser, and maybe even wonder-struck.'
-- David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal

'Understanding begins -- and ends -- in wonder. This book articulates simply, and in a personal and unpretentious manner, an urgently needed defence of wonder as indispensable to a true perception and just appreciation of the world. We neglect its message at our peril.'
-- Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary

'An impressive erudition and literary sensibility animate the pages of this thoughtful book. With a light poetic touch Curry traces the many ways in which enchantment lies at the core of human experience, even in a world that does its best to disabuse and disillusion us. Detaching it from ideology, Curry sees enchantment as an irrepressible mode of our being present to things, and vice versa. The enchanted moments cannot be sustained yet they lay their claim on us time and time again by virtue of the fact that we are alive and capable of wonder.'
-- Robert Pogue Harrison, author of Forests: the Shadow of Civilization

'After reading any of [Patrick Curry's] pieces life seems more worth living, and for that I am especially grateful.'
-- Zygmunt Bauman, author of Liquid Modernity

'Curry is a poet and philosopher and both come through so clearly in his writing which is rich, precise, and full of complex ideas expressed with a remarkable ease... I can't recommend [this book] enough, especially for those who experience enchantment but for whom words for expressing it have always been difficult. At long last, we have our poet philosopher whose respect for enchantment has allowed us to understand its extraordinary qualities at the deepest levels and by gently keeping himself from being at the center of the story (as other writers on enchantment and wonder have not been able to resist) allows us very much to hear his words and yet to be in our own songs. A wonder indeed.'
-- Goodreads Reviewer


Dr Patrick Curry was born in Canada and has lived in London for over forty years. He is the author of numerous well-regarded scholarly and popular books on topics ranging from environmental ethics to cosmology and literature, and has been a lecturer at the Universities of Kent and Bath Spa. His books include Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien, Myth and Modernity and Ecological Ethics. He is also editor-in-chief of an online journal, The Ecological Citizen. In 2019, he was elected a Companion of the Guild of St George.

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