Item description for The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself (Penguin Classics) by Teresa Of Avila & J. M. Cohen...
Overview Born in the Castilian town of Avila in 1515, Teresa entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation when she was twenty-one. Tormented by illness, doubts and self-recrimination, she gradually came to recognize the power of prayer and contemplation - her spiritual enlightenment was intensified by many visions and mystical experiences, including the piercing of her heart by a spear of divine love. She went on to found seventeen Carmelite monasteries throughout Spain. Teresa always denied her own saintliness, however, saying in a letter: 'There is no suggestion of that nonsense about my supposed sanctity.' This frank account is one of the great stories of a religious life and a literary masterpiece - after Don Quixote, it is Spain's most widely read prose classic.
Publishers Description Born in the Castilian town of Avila in 1515, Teresa entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation when she was twenty-one. Tormented by illness, doubts and self-recrimination, she gradually came to recognize the power of prayer and contemplation - her spiritual enlightenment was intensified by many visions and mystical experiences.
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Studio: Penguin Classics
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 1988
Publisher Penguin Classics
Series Penguin Classics
ISBN 0140440739 ISBN13 9780140440737 UPC 051488010951
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More About Teresa Of Avila & J. M. Cohen
Mirabai Starr is a professor of philosophy, religious studies, and Spanish at the University of New Mexico who has studied a wide variety of religious traditions including Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Mirabai is an accomplished translator and fiction writer who brings the sensibilities of both seeker and scholar to her translations. Her most recent work is the translation of St. John of the Cross's mystical writings, Dark Night of the Soul.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself (Penguin Classics)?
cosmic consciousness Dec 18, 2007
Want to read what it is like to be enlightened? I first read in 1971 and has remained ever since an inspiration for the purpose of life. Transcends Catholicism by describing the universality of higher consciousness.
A life of no ordinary woman or meekness rewarded Feb 25, 2007
I recommend this book, preferably a different edition, to those who are looking for a Christian relationship with God. The mystic nun of 16th century Spain, you can think anything you want of her, but she ain't ordinary. The spiritual experiences that "befell her is the central theme of the book" (intro. p.13). Her relationship with our Lord is honest and humble, sincere as any testimony that you'll ever hear. The way to approach this story is with respect, and also with humbleness, for that is the way she also approaches us.
I noticed a little bias in the introduction by J.M.Cohen. Or maybe he doesn't have the facts right: "In the very cities where they (Teresa and John of the Cross) walked Mohammedan mystics, less narrow and exclusive in their beliefs than they, had flourished in the days of the Moorish emirates." This is simply untrue. Very much more narrow and exclusive, Mister. Read you Spanish history well (see my listmania). No need of political correctness when we all know how Muslims always have treated Christians (go and live even today in a "tolerant" Muslim country).
Teresa's life is a great testimony for all denominations of Christians. Yes, she was a Catholic, and you will find the Catholic theology sprinkled everywhere; but most importantly she was real, I mean a real Christian. And if you read the text without prejudice -not like the Pharisees would ask Jesus- you will find prove of this. Her relationship is with the Lord, not with images. For example, she commends herself to Saint Joseph, but she always has it clear that it is the Lord Jesus who gives the favors: "The Lord seems to have given other saints grace to help in some troubles but I know by experience that this glorious saint helps in all", and "I clearly see (...) that if we are to please God and He is to grant us great favors, it is His will that this should be through His most sacred Humanity, in whom His Majesty said He is well pleased. (...) I have clearly seen that it is by this door we must enter, if we wish His sovereign Majesty to reveal great secrets to us. He will show us the way. If we consider his life, that is our best example."
There's an episode that I liked particularly. The Lord gives her the grace of talking with angels; she hears: "I want you to converse now not with men but with angels". And so it happens, "For I have never since been able to form a firm friendship, or to take any comfort in, or to feel particular love for, any people except those whom I believe to love God and to be trying to serve Him. This has been something beyond my control; and it has made no difference if the people have been relatives or friends." Anybody feels identified?
Check this one out, as example of good and sensible advice: "the proof that something comes from God lies in its conformity to Holy Scripture. If it diverges in the least from that, I think I should feel incomparably more certain that it came from the devil".
Another fun note, this one about her tribulations with her confessors: "He (the devil) cannot do me any harm, but they, especially if they are confessors, can be most disturbing. For several years they were such a trial to me that now I am astonished that I was able to bear it." Beware of human confessors!
A more curious note: "there is nothing the devils fly from more promptly, never to return, than from holy water. They fly from the cross also, but return again. So there must be a great virtue in holy water." Of course there's no virtue in water, but modern readers who are aware of it should still be able to sympathize with her.
The book is full of commentary of this kind. They all portrait the love of this meek woman for the Lord Jesus. This book is so needed today in a world that has gone to the other extreme, that of devotion of evil, that reading it can feel almost like an ET encounter.
Leave your pride outside before entering.
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa May 1, 2006
I've always marvelled at Bernini's statue, Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which seems to precede art deco by centuries. Since this Penguin edition shows it on the cover, I was naturally drawn to this book. Having cracked the cover, however, I couldn't put it down; it's gripping, amusing and eminently readable--everything we know so-called devotional literature is not.
Post-moderns will find in this sixteenth century nun a like-minded comrade, as unlikely as that may seem. We, or at least, I could relate far more to her failures than successes, and there's an almost slapstick, which is to say light-heartedness running through these memoirs that has more in common with I Love Lucy than sentimental religious literature. The best known incident is when a horse threw her and she landed in a mud puddle. She looked up to heaven and said, "if that's the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them."
If that doesn't make you want to read this book, what would? Completely against the tenet of modernism that everything is always progressing and "every day in every way we're getting better and better," here's a kindred soul from the sixteenth century who many readers will instantly relate to. Another way to view this book is as an exercise in journaling, which many people find more difficult than it sounds. Teresa was ordered to write her memoirs, not unlike students in an English class who find it so difficult to think of anything to write about.
This book may not be to everyone's taste. But I would recommend it to readers who, like myself, are absolutely allergic to sentimental and devotional literature. I found it delightfully different and would group it with the few "classics" in this genre I have enjoyed, including Pascal's Pensees, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and St. Augustine's Confessions.
Correction of previous review Sep 27, 2004
The previous review for this book was obviously misplaced here, as this is the version by E. Allison Peers! I also noticed this same review listed under another translation of this work, where it was clearly intended to be. So unless I am missing something here, I suggest people ignore this mistaken review.
Heavenly Work, Not-so-Heavenly Translation Aug 30, 2003
This is one of the best works in the Catholic Christian literature. However, this particular translation is not a good translation from the Spanish; it is not entirely accurate. E. Allison Peers does a much better job translating and her translation is better spiritually.