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Comment: Cover differs (earlier printing of this same edition: Penguin, 1993). Several pages have had their upper corner creased; otherwise the book is unmarked. No underlining, highlighting or notes. Spine is square and not creased. Binding is tight. Inspected and cleaned prior to listing. Shrink wrapped for added protection. Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Tracking number provided in your Amazon account with every order.
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The Cistercian World: Monastic Writings of the Twelfth Century (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 7, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Translated and edited with an introduction by Pauline Matarasso
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (November 7, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140433562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140433562
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,402,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant and much needed book. It contains short (several page) extracts from all the great Cistercian writers (Bernard, Aelred, Gueric), which Pauline Matarasso has beautifully translated.
The book has two great strengths.
1. The best bits of these great authors have been chosen so that the reader receives a taste of their wisdom without being drownwed in thick theological tomes.
2. The subject matter is fascinating, ranging from monastery tales, even at the time of St Bernard, throught contemporary biographies of great men like Aelred of Reivaulx, to a beautiful description of Clairvaux.
This book was a joy and I thoroughly recommend it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on January 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whenever I feel in need of a spiritual tonic, I return to this exquisite collection of writings from 12th century Cistercians. It never fails, to use the words of William of St. Thierry, one of the authors collected in it, to "wipe away the rheum of prolonged sleep."

Most of us think of medieval theology in terms of scholasticism, the method of the schools or academies (hence its name) brought to its finest point by Thomas Aquinas. Scholasticism sought to apply the logic of Aristotle to theological issues. It is rigorous, consistent, sometimes brilliant, and typically dry as dust.

But predating scholasticism, and exemplified by the 12th century Cistercians, was monastic theology, which adopted a meditative, prayerful, poetic approach. The monastic theologicans were more mystics than philosophers, more interested in wisdom than Aristotle, allegories than syllogisms, scripture than schools. The greatest among them are represented in this collection: Bernard of Clairvaux, William of St. Thierry, Guerric of Igny, Aelred of Rievaulx, Isaac of Stella (my personal favorite!), Gilbert of Hoyland, John of Ford, Adam of Perseigne, and Stephen Harding.

Reading these men is like savoring an exquisite taste. Here's a small sampling to whet your appetite:

--Bernard of Clairvaux:
"It is a cruel mercy that kills the soul while cherishing the body." (p. 48) and "You will find that it is a hoe, not a sceptre, that you want for doing a prophet's work." (p. 88)

--William of St. Thierry (speaking of God): "Sometimes I hear the voice fo your spirit, a passing whisper like the faintest breeze, and I understand it to say, 'Come to him and you will be illumined.' I hear and I am roused from my torpor." (p.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stewart on August 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book introduces the reader, through the exploration of multiple primary sources,to the twelfth century rise of the Cistercians. It provides a wonderfull look into the mind of these dynamic individuals who attempted to escape from the increasingly complex world of twelfth-century Western Europe and create an internal relationship with God through the external bond of mutual friendship.
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By Cynthia C.C. on December 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful selection of Cistercian monastic writings from the 12th century. While Bernard of Clairvaux is well-represented here, as he should be, the book also includes important writings from other Cistercians of the period. It was very nice to see these others included, especially since many sources tend to focus almost solely on Bernard. This variety gave greater depth and breadth to the writings of the period. And since these are only selections, rather than entire texts, the reader is provided with the best of the available writings, so he/she doesn't have to wade through long works to glean the crucial information.

While the historical selections are excellent, it is the introductions that make the book stellar. The introduction at the beginning is concise but informative. And each selection starts with its own introduction, placing it in broader context, and also providing useful concomitant information. Excellent work by Penguin Classics!
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