Cover

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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

During late antiquity and the Middle Ages, the spiritual exercises that were associated with self-improvement were normally based on extensive periods of reading and meditation. As a consequence, the reshaping of ethical values in these exercises became a part of the subject's inner experience. The present volume is an exploration of this theme...

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1. Reading and Self-Knowledge

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pp. 8-23

The late ancient and medieval periods inherited a number of techniques for dealing with the classical philosophical problem of self-knowledge. The theme of this chapter is the influence of the culture of reading on the transformation of these techniques. My major purpose is to address an issue that arises out of the thought of Augustine of Hippo...

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2. Ethical Values and the Literary Imagination

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pp. 24-37

Ethics has for some time been a topic of interest in both philosophy and literature. One of the focal points of this interest is the ethical thought of antiquity. Much of the attention has been devoted to Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic thinkers down to Plotinus, who died in A.D. 270. Some notice has also been taken of the bridging figures to medieval thought, Augustine and Boethius...

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3. Later Ancient Literary Realism

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pp. 38-51

The finest tribute that can be paid to a scholar by those who have the privilege of a historical perspective on his achievement is to renew and develop his thinking. One of the past century's scholars in the field of Latin and Romance philology who has continually inspired this type of reconsideration is Erich Auerbach...

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4. The Problem of Self-Representation

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pp. 52-70

This chapter, in keeping with the themes of the previous two, is an invitation to reflect on the functions of literary experience in later ancient and medieval authors who deal with the elusive notion of the self. I begin with a few words about the attitude toward reading and writing in Seneca and Marcus Aurelius...

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5. Petrarch's Portrait of Augustine

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pp. 71-85

The development of textually oriented contemplative practices in late antiquity and the Middle Ages meant that the activity of the reader was perceived as a technique for achieving a classical philosophical ideal, the betterment of the person. In this respect, reading was for many centuries looked upon as a means to an end...

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6. Two Versions of Utopia

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pp. 86-100

The century that has just finished has been greatly troubled by utopian schemes. Some of these projects have doubtless been a source of social progress, especially in the less developed world, but even their enthusiastic supporters would agree that the cost in human lives has been unacceptably high...

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7. Lectio Spiritualis

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pp. 101-114

We live at a time when the classical curriculum is disappearing from primary education in all European countries. We cannot expect classical languages to play as large a role as they have in the past in anchoring the national cultures of Europe in a common heritage. It is worth considering the consequences of this development for the understanding of European identity...

Notes

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pp. 115-128

Index

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pp. 129-130

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 131-132

I would like to acknowledge the support that I have received from the Coll├Ęge de France, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. Among numerous individuals to whom l owe personal debts of gratitude are Yves Bonnefoy, Vittore Branca,...