English Summary/英文概要： The Fear of Hell is a provocative study of two of the most powerful images in Christianity—hell and the eucharist. Drawing upon the writings of Italian preachers and theologians of the Counter-Reformation, Piero Camporesi demonstrates the extraordinary power of the Baroque imagination to conjure up punishments, tortures, and the rewards of sin.
In the first part of the book, Camporesi argues that hell was a very real part of everyday life during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Preachers portrayed hell in images typical of common experience, comparing it to a great city, a hospital, a prison, a natural disaster, a rioting mob, or a feuding family. The horror lay in the extremes to which these familiar images could be taken. The city of hell was not an ordinary city, but a filthy, stinking, and overcrowded place, an underworld "sewer" overflowing with the refuse of decaying flesh and excrement—shocking but not beyond human imagination.
What was most disturbing about this grotesque imagery was the realization by the people of the day that the punishment of afterlife was an extension of their daily experience in a fallen world. Thus, according to Camporesi, the fear of hell had many manifestations over the centuries, aided by such powerful promoters as Gregory the Great and Dante, but ironically it was during the Counter-Reformation that hell’s tie with the physical world became irrevocable, making its secularization during the Enlightenment ultimately easier. The eucharist, or host, the subject of the second part of the book, represented corporeal salvation for early modern Christians and was therefore closely linked with the imagery of hell, the place of perpetual corporeal destruction. As the bread of life, the host possessed many miraculous powers of healing and sustenance, which made it precious to those in need. In fact, it was seen to be so precious to some that Camporesi suggests that there was a "clandestine consumption of the sacred unleavened bread, a network of dealers and sellers" and a "market of consumers." But to those who ate the host unworthily was the prospect of swift retribution. One wicked priest continued to celebrate the mass despite his sin, and as a result, "his tongue and half of his face became rotten, thus demonstrating, unwillingly, by the stench of his decaying face, how much the pestiferous smell of his contaminated heart was abominable to God." When received properly, however, the host was a source of health and life both in this world and in the world to come.
Written with style and imagination, The Fear of Hell offers a vivid and scholarly examination of themes central to Christian culture, whose influence can still be found in our beliefs and customs today.
Chinese Summary/中文概要： 通往地獄的地圖一直以來都模糊不清，我們不但不知道該如何抵達，也不清楚地獄在哪裡。一個知名的神學家最近指出地獄確實存在，但卻很有可能是空的。有些人認為地獄是一個「非場所」(non-place)，有些人則勉為其難的將其視為一種過時的隱喻。曾經在歐洲盛行數百年的地獄恐懼現今已幾乎完全消失，地獄早已溶入現代人的意識和潛意識心靈中。
Awards/获奖情况： 「絕對值得一讀！」──Eileen G.
「這是一本極度有趣的作品，非常刺激、生動、充滿想法，提供的洞見甚至遠超過其本身的嚴肅主題。」──Roy Porter, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine