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Monodies and On the Relics of Saints (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Guibert of Nogent , Jay Rubenstein , Joseph McAlhany
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

23 Feb 2012 Penguin Classics
The first Western autobiography since Augustine's Confessions, the Monodies is set against the backdrop of the First Crusade and offers stunning insights into medieval society. As Guibert of Nogent intimately recounts his early years, monastic life, and the bloody uprising at Laon in 1112, we witness a world-and a mind-populated by royals, heretics, nuns, witches, and devils, and come to understand just how fervently he was preoccupied with sin, sexuality, the afterlife, and the dark arts. Exotic, disquieting, and illuminating, the Monodies is a work in which the dreams, fears, and superstitions of one man illuminate the psychology of an entire people. It is joined in this volume by On the Relics of Saints, a theological manifesto that has never appeared in English until now.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1st Edition edition (23 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143106309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143106302
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a valuable addition to medieval literature, and Penguin are to be applauded for adding it to their list of Classics. . . . The "Monodies" has been translated before but clumsily, and here at last is a smooth and comprehensible version. . . . [It] provides an intriguing insight into the mind of a medieval monk . . . a complex and troubled man, austere, conservative, at sea with a changing world . . . an isolated and introspective figure who broods continually on his relationship with God. This is, of course, one of the reasons why the "Monodies "is so interesting."-- Charles Freeman, "History Today""

About the Author

Guibert of Nogent (c. 1060-c. 1125) was a French monk who has emerged as one of the most original thinkers of the twelfth century. Joseph McAlhany is an associate professor of great ideas and classics at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.Jay Rubenstein, a MacArthur Fellow and Rhodes scholar, is an assistant professor of medieval history at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville and the author of the first comprehensive study of Guibert's life and thought in over a century.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden gem 27 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is truly a remarkable work and one which deserves to be known and read more widely. written from the perspective of a 12th century monk it is wonderful to encounter his personal thoughts , ideas and fears...many of which are as relevant today as when first penned. Truly a fscinating insight into a complex mind.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Visionary Insight into Medieval France 1 Oct 2013
By DENNIS MCCARTHY - Published on
In some ways, it's a curious accident of history as to who rides the main currents and who is washed up in the eddies of history. Why, for instance, is Billy the Kid the most famous outlaw in the American West while Jesse Evans, his onetime compadre and long-time nemesis and whose life was just as dramatic, is largely forgotten? Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid but was unsuccessful in collecting a $500 reward. Garrett needed the money, and so he wrote a largely fictional book about the outlaw, making him a legend. Evans, on the other hand, escaped and lived in anonymity for at least another 60 years.

Guibert of Nogent was one of those historical figures who could easily have wound up in the eddies of history if he hadn't written an extraordinary autobiography, "Monodies." In revealing the life of a philosopher monk, "Monodies" is the first such autobiography since St. Augustine's "Confessions," seven centuries earlier. In a larger sense, the book is also a biography of medieval France as it was coming of age. Guibert's story is not a history of the great events of the times, however. It is a quiet study of everyday life as seen through the mind of a unique personality wrestling with the roles of God and man. In some ways it is a deeply psychological drama, anticipating the work of another Frenchman, Michel de Montaigne, four centuries later.

"Monodies" would have been lost to history if a single copy hadn't reappeared in the 17th century. That copy has been recently translated in a remarkable modern edition by Joseph McAlhany and Jay Rubenstein. Rubenstein has written an excellent, long introduction that lays the foundation for understanding Guibert and his autobiography. The edition also includes the first translation in English of "On the Relics of Saints," another of Guibert's works, which establishes him as a forerunner of modern skepticism.
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