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The Complete Francis of Assisi: His Life, The Complete Writings, and The Little Flowers (Paraclete Giants) Paperback – August 1, 2015
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Francis’s Essential Writings is of the most historical interest to me. Here is Francis in his own words–letters, prayers and monastic rules. These are important documents of the early Franciscan movement. Sweeney’s introductions and comments provide context for each piece of writing. The Little Flowers is well known and well loved. What sets this edition apart from others (other than Sweeney’s translation) is their arrangement. Sweeney places these stories in what he thinks is their most straightforward chronological rendering (rather than the traditional order. Anyone interested in Francis and the movement he founded will love this volume. If you do not have any Francis on your shelf, this is a good deal. I give it five stars.—James Matichuk, thoughts, prayers & songs
Paraclete Press now has published this comprehensive collection of materials on Francis of Assisi as another volume in a very useful series, “Paraclete Giants,” with others on Julian of Norwich, Thérèse of Lisieux, the Imitation of Christ, among other classics in the spiritual life. Jon Sweeny is known for his work on Francis with numerous other publications, most recently When St. Francis Saved the Church, reviewed here by me.
Once more, I can recommend a book by him with enthusiasm and gratitude. Sweeney brings together several important resources in one volume. There is first, the classic biography of Francis by Paul Sabatier, but with a great deal of editing and added material. Additional resources include a glossary of terms, a very helpful listing of major figures as well as sources for further reading. The second component is the essential writings of Francis. Here Sweeny provides fluid, accessible translation and notes as well as ample bibliography. Lastly, there is a well edited, revised translation of the important early narrative on Francis and his life , the fioretti or “little flowers,” a collection of accounts by different authors done and collected a century or so after Francis’ death.
Today, the bishop of Rome, the pope’s taking on not just the name of Francis—the first time ever for the head of the Catholic church—but also this same Pope Francis’ daring to speak out against world economic systems, against the abuse of the natural environment, on behalf of the marginalized—all this has created yet another anti-Franciscan backlash, a sign of the way in which the “little poor man” of Assisi remains a sign of contradiction and challenge in the church. This fine volume is perhaps the most complete encounter in print one could have with him. The detail from Giotto’s beautiful fresco in the upper basilica in Assisi on the cover, of Francis preaching to the birds, is another wonderful vision.— Michael Plekon, Baruch College of the City University of New York
The Complete Francis of Assisi: His Life, The Complete Writings, and The Little Flowers Ed., translated and introduced by Jon M. Sweeney, Paraclete Press, 2015, 399 pp., ISBN 978-1-61261-688-9. $24.99 (paper).
The Complete Francis of Assisi is actually a collection of three books between two covers. Sweeney edited the material of three classic Francis texts and brought them together in one convenient location. The individual titles that constitute this single work on Francis are Road to Assisi, Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings, and The Little Flowers. This four hundred-page book may seem daunting considering it seeks to introduce a simple and unassuming man of God, but the reader will soon be captivated by the message and transformed in heart. The reader will discover the man Francis, his writings, and his living legacy. Sweeney does an admirable job introducing, annotating, and contemporizing each of the three classic French texts. It should also be noted that this title is part of a new series created by Paraclete Press called Paraclete Giants which specifically gathers the materials that profile the life, deeds, and words of Catholic luminaries in one place.
The Complete Francis of Assisi is recommended for all libraries seeking to update some classic texts.
—John Leonard Berg, Catholic Library World
About the Author
Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar, author, and culture critic with a wide range of interests. Since 2004, he has been the editor-in-chief of Paraclete Press in Massachusetts.
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The Road to Assisi to was first published in France in 1893 by French Prostentant Paul Sabbatier. More than 45 editions have been published in French alone. So it is definitely a classic. This book gives you specific historical facts with dates needed in a good biography, but there is also a reasonable flow of interesting stories. This makes this book informative and entertaining. It starts with his early life raised an aristocrat as a Bernadone in Assisi, Italy. It goes through his meeting with the Sultan, his later life receiving the stigmata and his death including his writing the Canticle of the Sun.
The Essential Writings of St Francis edited by Sweeney, the author of this compilation, give us insights into the thoughts and mind of St. Francis. He was not a scholarly man and was a man of few words. Some of his best loved writings are letters.
The Little Flowers ia a best loved Christian favorite that many have quoted from and it includes amusing anecdotes. It is interesting to hear stories that apear to have been told by his closest followers and brothers.
This is an important look at St. Francis as a whole. Sweeney has included personal comments all the way through the book. The author seems to be a modern day expert on St.Francis including this book and many others.
I would recommend this book to you but it is a rather long read taken as a whole. One thing I think that could be made more clear is the spirituality of St. Francis. I don't think this was the aim of this particular compilation but it is more of a get to know the man and his legacy book. The book gives you a thorough introduction but only an introduction that skims the surface of the impact St. Francis has made and the depts of his spirituality.
the-complete-francis-of-assisi-his-life-the-complete-writings-and-the-little-flowers-6Edited, translated and introduced by Jon Sweeney (independent scholar and cultural critic, The Complete Francis of Assisi includes the complete text of Paul Sabatier's classic The Life of St. Francis of Assissi (published as The Road to Assisi with Sweeney's introduction and notes), Sweeney's edition of Francis's writings (Previously published as Francis of Assisi In His Own Words: The Essential Writings) and Sweeney's translation of The Little Flowers of S. Francis by Brother Ugolino.
Of these three shorter works, Sabatier's biography was the most difficult for me to read. Sweeney calls Sabatier Francis's first modern biographer (3). He first published his Life in French in 1894. Sabatier employed the methods of textual and historical criticism and contemporary psychological insight. Yet it is still a text from a hundred years ago and reads like. Sabatier sought to be a faithful interpreter of Francis. He was a man of his times and is reticent about what legendary material he includes in his history, discounting the most fanciful tales (i.e. appearances of the devil, heavenly virgins, etc.); however he doesn't complete demythologize him either, he includes an account of Francis's stigmata.
Francis's Essential Writings is of the most historical interest to me. Here is Francis in his own words--letters, prayers and monastic rules. These are important documents of the early Franciscan movement. Sweeney's introductions and comments provide context for each piece of writing.
The Little Flowers is well known and well loved. What sets this edition apart from others (other than Sweeney's translation) is their arrangement. Sweeney places these stories in what he thinks is their most straightforward chronological rendering (rather than the traditional order.
Anyone interested in Francis and the movement he founded will love this volume. If you do not have any Francis on your shelf, this is a good deal. I give it five stars.
Note: I received this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review.