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on 13 August 2017
Fine
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on 16 June 2015
One of the problems in producing an introduction to Hildergard is the sheer scale of her oeuvre, and so we can end up with an introduction that reflects the interests of the editor, and the ethos of the publisher. We are given no information about the translator/editor, and the Publisher – Penguin, really needs no introduction because they have managed to maintain the ethos of the imperative which set the publishing house up – which as far as the Classics are concerned, making the writing of ‘classical’ writers – available and in an accessible form – Classics of course being not restricted to the literature of Greece and Rome.

Without sounding ‘feminist’ it does seem about time that in an age – the Middle Ages, when everything seemed to be dominated, if not dictated by men, to recognize that the same period also produced some quite remarkable women; ranging from Eleanor of Aquitane to Catherine of Sienna and Hildergard of Bingen. The subject here is Hildergard.

The editorial approach is thematic rather than chronological; so for example, the selections for Scivias, are found under each of the themes, such as (section 3) The Sibyl of the Rhine, (4) In praise of creation, and (5) Allegories of justice and love.
A further reading section follows the introduction. The notes section is excellent and appended, as is a glossary – which includes for example not just ‘technical’ terms, but also names of people mentioned in the letters. I actually think that this is a very good general introduction to Hildergard and her writing, and could well encourage readers to read on, in whatever direction one is drawn to.
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on 5 August 2002
As a composer, poet and writer on theological, scientific and medical subjects, Hildegard von Bingen has bequeathed us a rich legacy. She is one of the few female medieval composers whose work is generally known and performed today. My favorite interpretation of her music can be found in four tracks on Meredith monk’s album “Monk and the Abbess.� Atherton’s book provides selected texts from her visionary Scivias trilogy, her medical writings, songs and letters. Interestingly enough, Hildegard is known today in Europe by followers of holistic and herbal medicine on the one hand, and by lovers of classical and medieval music on the other. She is also admired for her life story and for having been a popular and influential author during a misogynist era. Although she was orthodox in belief and criticized the Gnostic Cathars to my dismay, I still admire her spirituality and the feminine expression of it (she saw man & woman as equals) and her understanding of humanity’s unity with nature and the universe. Atherton provides explanatory introductions to her writings, and the book has a chronology of her colorful life, a discography of her music, notes, a glossary and commentary.
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on 1 May 2005
Hildegard was very much a 'one off': she was a twelfth century woman with a voice. Whether she was either a saintly mystic or merely someone who interpreted migraine induced hallucinations, her voice remains a fascinatingly original one and this selection is an ideal introduction to her writings.
The introduction is informative without being either too detailed or too patronising. There is a well-balanced mix of her letters as well as extracts from her longer works such as 'Scivias'.
She was a polymath who wrote, composed and illustrated in response to her visions and whist it is disappointing that there are only a few colour plates of her extraordinary pictures, I would thoroughly recommend this book to all who wish to explore the writings of one of the most astonishing medieval figures first hand.
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on 3 September 2013
Inspirational, beautiful imagery/visualisations, added to my faith - a wonderful insight and offers hope. I personally dipped into it many times and in different places to get the 'feel' and slowly became more 'involved'.
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on 16 August 2005
It isn't very often that one comes across a book such as this, but I felt that I had to write in and comment on the brilliance with which the book has been edited by Mark 'Mak' Atherton. Never afraid to fly in the face of 'popular' (is that not a misnomer?!) Hildegarde scholarship, Atherton's thrillingly original and daringly subversive 'take' on Hildegarde reveals that, beneath the apparently saintly facade, a riot of passion and lust lay heavy upon her heart. I wait with baited breath for Atherton's next page-turner.
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on 11 September 2015
great background reading for students of theology
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on 8 April 2016
Very interesting!
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on 30 December 2013
I got this for research for my next project and found it quite hard to get into. The whole thing about German names in the twelfth century is that not only are they long and complicated in construction, but many of them are so similar one ends up wondering who is who, and losing touch with the central theme of the work. I will continue to use it as a research book, but I don't think it is the best structure for that really.
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