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1. Guibert of Nogent: Portrait of
2. A Monk's Confession: The Memoirs

1. Guibert of Nogent: Portrait of a Medieval Mind
by Jay Rubenstein
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2002-08-16)
list price: US$100.00 -- used & new: US$84.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415939704
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Guibert of Nogent has provided us with much of what we know about life in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.His autobiography, his crusade chronicle, and his critique of relics create a rich and textured portrait of this vibrant and violent social landscape. His observations range widely from the philosophical to the extremely personal with topics including his mother, sexuality, cleanliness, and life in a Benedictine monastery.Yet, in spite of his importance to our understanding of his era, Guibert himself has not been the subject of an historical biography in nearly a century.Guibert of Nogent: Portrait of a Medieval Mind remedies this an in doing so challenges many of the long held assumptions about this enigmatic man.
Instead of being a neurotic, as earlier historians have described him, Guibert is revealed as one of Europe's most sophisticated early psychological thinkers who led the way in transforming hagiography, biography, historiography, and theology.He interactedwith the most important minds of his time and fearlessly espoused his views even at the risk of being charged with heresy.
This is a well written and valuable study of the life of a familiar but still somehow shadowy figure and an important contribution to medieval intellectual history, with insights into the meaning of the twelfth-century renaissance, the monastic mindset, the invention of psychological thought, the birth of the university, and the historiography of the Crusades. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars the ultimate study of an intriguing mind and fascinating era
brilliantly researched and exquisitely written - one of the more readable and enjoyable academic texts i've ever had the pleasure to devour!a necessary tome for anyone mesmerized by the times, be you a serious scholar, a history-phile, or someone looking for an intelligent and very readable great book...!

5-0 out of 5 stars Noteworthy and Sophisticated
As the now definitive scholarly work on Buibert of Nogent, Rubenstein's delightful insight into Nogent's life is a well-written and thoroughly researched book that deserves a place on any scholar's bookshelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars urgently relevant
An impressive work of erudition. Rubenstein has written the definitive work on Guibert of Nogent. I would recommend this work to specialists and non-specialists alike. ... Read more

2. A Monk's Confession: The Memoirs of Guibert of Nogent
by Guibert
Paperback: 225 Pages (1995-12)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$19.55
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Asin: 0271014822
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
A new translation of a rare autobiography from the Middle Ages.

"Paul J. Archambault pays generous tribute to the work of his forerunners, but argues convincingly that there is room for a new translation and introduction. [The book] is aimed at students and cultivated readers who are not familiar with French, and seeks to provide a lively and readable translation. In this it has succeeded. . . . Guibert's book is important, not just for the insight into monastic life given by a learned man who was also an accomplished stylist. The section based on his own experience as abbot of Nogent, in touch with ecclesiastical and secular leaders, is one of the most important sources for the history of the revolt of the 'commune' of Laon and the murder of the bishop in 1112."—English Historical Review

"Guibert's memoirs offer a lively picture of a local slice ofmedieval French society and the ecclesial world of the Middle Ages. . . . [I]t immerses its readers in the everyday world and faith of people who lived far away from the intellectual and cultural centers of medieval times.Paul Archambault provides a very accessible modern English translation and carefully annotated edition of Guibert's Monodiae. The book will be a welcome addition to both undergraduate and graduate level courses on the Middle Ages and will serve as a fine contextualization of more theological medieval texts, such as Anselm of Canterbury's Cur Deus Homo?It will be equally illuminating to lay and clergy who wish to explore the Middle Ages or spiritual autobiographies."—Anglican Theological Review

"Guibert of Nogent is a major writer who is a favorite of medieval historians. He furnishes a good deal of autobiographical information, somewhat of a rarity for the period, and he gives many details about the commune in France at the beginning of the twelfth century. Paul Archambault has given us an accurate and polished translation, and his introduction places Guibert in the Augustinian tradition where he rightly belongs. An outstanding contribution."—Gerard J. Brault, Penn State University

A Monk's Confession is the first completely new English translation of Guibert of Nogent's remarkable memoirs in over seventy years. Written around the year 1115, they offer an unparalleled look at the life of a monk in the Middle Ages.

Guibert, who lived his entire life in northern France, called these memoirs his book of monodiae, or solitary songs. Many scholars consider them the first Latin autobiography in the West after Augustine's Confessions. Readers will be stirred and surprised by Guibert's intense preoccupation with the sinfulness of his soul, his visions of demons and necromancy, and his frank struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. But Guibert is also a valuable witness to his age. In addition to his personal history, his memoirs give a brief chronicle of the abbey of Nogent—where he served as abbot for some twenty years—and a vivid account of the bloody uprising of the Laon Commune in 1112. His observations give precious insight into education, monastic life, and the beginnings of the great medieval towns.

Paul J. Archambault's translation successfully renders Guibert's Latin—at times stylish, at times rustic—into lively, modern English. He consulted Edmond-René Labande's authoritative 1981 Latin edition with French translation. He provides a complete introduction and annotation that help situate Guibert within the history and literature of the Middle Ages while permitting readers to judge for themselves how to interpret this fascinating voice from the past. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of a Monk along with Local French History
Guibert (born 1055, died 1125)was born a noble, but followed his mother's lead in abandoning his wealth.He joined a monestary and excelled in his studies, dedication to the Christian faith, and in politics, so that he rose through the ranks and was appointed to run a monestary at Nogent, France.Paul Archambault, the translator and editor, is a professor of French at Syracuse University.

Guibert's "Confessions" is divided into three parts. In the first part, he tells the story of his life--the low character of his father, the goodness and saintliness of his mother, a harsh education under a beloved tutor, the hedonistic lifestyle he lead after his tutor left to join the monestary, his own decision to join the monestary, his work as a monk, and his eventual election to run the Monestary at Nogent.Part one ends with several stories of divine punishment (through lightning, etc.) of sinful monks.

The second part of the book is the shortest and concerns itself with the history of the Monestary at Nogent.Like the previous division, this section ends with anecdotes concerning divine punishment for sinners.

The third division of the book is a lengthy account of the Laon serf's revolt from Guibert himself, a man who lived in the area and was personally aquainted with the principals of this revolt.He gives first-hand testimony of and second-hand accounts of the characters involved in this revolt including Enguerrand de Boves, Saint Anselm, Biship Gaudry, and Gerard de Quiezry.He knows the political intrigues, who hates/is allied with who, and the secret motivations of powerful persons.It makes for an interesting historical read.Guibert follows his established pattern as he finishes this book citing examples of divine judgment for various sins.

Guibert of Nogent's book is an important contribution to both French political history in the 1000s and 1100s as well as ecclesiastical history.Guibert gives important details about French politics (including the role of bribery) and the mechanics of revolutionary riots.This book is also useful for one who wants to grow in their knowledge of the Church.Guibert shows how one might join a monestary, what monks actually did, how they rise in influence, and how that influence might be wielded.Most intersting of all, the reader can see the degree to which church politics influences state politics and vice versa.

Paul Archambault has translated this book from its original Latin.I'm not in a position to critique the accuracy of his translation, but since the previous (1970) edition contained many archaic words (thou, thee), this readable translation is appreciated.Archambault's footnotes (which give brief biographies of people Guibert mentions, defends difficult translations, cites Bible references, and gives other general information) was very helpful to this reader.His 40-page introduction clued this reader into themes, set the historical scene, and gave a personality sketch of Guibert of Nogent himself.

In all, this is a recommended book for those interested in this period of European or Ecclesiastical history. ... Read more

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