After Augustine: The Meditative Reader and the Text by Brian Stock

By Brian Stock

Augustine of Hippo was once the main prolific and influential author on examining among antiquity and the Renaissance, even though he left no systematic treatise at the topic. His reluctance to synthesize his perspectives on different very important issues corresponding to the sacraments means that he could were skeptical of any try to convey his statements on examining right into a formal conception. but Augustine has remained the purpose of connection with which all later writers continuously go back of their look for the roots of difficulties relating studying and interpretation within the West.

Using Augustine because the touchstone, Brian inventory considers the evolution of the meditative reader inside of Western examining practices from classical instances to the Renaissance. He appears to be like to the matter of self-knowledge within the analyzing tradition of overdue antiquity; engages the similar query of moral values and literary adventure within the similar interval; and reconsiders Erich Auerbach's interpretation of historic literary realism.

In next chapters, inventory strikes ahead to the center a while to discover the angle of medieval Latin authors towards the style of autobiography as a version for self-representation and takes up the matter of analyzing, writing, and the self in Petrarch. He compares the position of the reader in Augustine's City of God and Thomas More's Utopia, and, in a last vital stream, reframes the matter of eu cultural identification through moving cognizance from the continuity and alter in spoken language to major shifts within the perform of non secular, silent interpreting within the center a long time and Renaissance. A richly profitable mirrored image at the historical past and nature of examining, After Augustine can provide to be a centerpiece of discussions concerning the discovery of the self via literature.

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Augustine believed that all stories work in much the same way, whether they are tales we think, tell, or live. Stories achieve their ends because they work on our emotions, whose influence on behavior depends on our interpretation of the narratives to which we are exposed. Augustine did not accept the ancient view of emotion and reason as opposed forces within the soul. He was not convinced that emotions are always irrational; in his view they could contribute to ethically informed, rational action, even if human reason is never entirely free from the sensory influences that impinge on our feelings.

To appreciate the subtlety of his reflections on this subject, we must not only think of a story in contemporary terms as a connected narrative, although that is one of the ways in which it appears in his life history. What he had in mind is something more basic about narrative in a linguistic sense: this is the manner in which thoughts, transformed into sequences of words, form meaningful sentences that allow narratives to be communicated from one person to another in speech or writing. It is from those strings of sounds, as little narratives, that bigger narratives are produced.

A major revival of contemplative reading techniques took place toward the end of the Middle Ages. Methods for meditation were subsequently codified and transformed in the influential spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. However, in general, the period after the fourteenth century moved away from medieval reading habits in two important respects. Oral reading was supplemented, if not entirely replaced, by silent reading, which was practiced by greater numbers of readers than during the Middle Ages.

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