The Life of St Teresa of Avila by Herself

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Penguin Books Limited, 1957 - Biography & Autobiography - 316 pages
'One of the things that makes me happy here, ' wrote Teresa from her foundation at Seville, 'is that there is no suggestion of that nonsense about my supposed sanctity...'

None the less, the world persisted in believing her to be a saint. Her autobiography tells how a self-willed and hysterically unbalanced woman was entirely transformed by profound religious experiences; it is also a literary masterpiece and, after "Don Quixote," the most widely read prose classic of Spain.

Along the path to her conversion, which began in 1555 at the age of forty, St Teresa had been haunted by hideous visions and illness, and her discussion of these, and of fear and false mysticism, informs some of the most moving and remarkable passages in her "Life." She was an acute and trustworthy analyst of exalted states. Above all, though, her account is helpful for readers developing an interest in Roman Catholicism and mysticism, for sceptics, beginners and all those learning to pray.

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User Review  - mahallett -

i don't believe in god so it's hard to take this seriously. did she go into unreality because she was lightheaded from anorexia? Read full review

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About the author (1957)

J. M. Cohen, born in London in 1903 and a Cambridge graduate, was the author of many Penguin translations, including versions of Cervantes, Rabelais and Montaigne. For some years he assisted E. V. Rieu in editing the Penguin Classics. He collected the three books of Comic and Curious Verse and anthologies of Latin American and Cuban writing. He frequently visited Spain and made several visits to Mexico, Cuba and other Spanish American countries. With his son Mark he edited the Penguin Dictionary of Quotations and its companion Dictionary of Modern Quotations.

J. M. Cohen died in 1989. The Times' obituary described him as 'the translator of the foreign prose classics for our times' and 'one of the last great English men of letters', while the Independent wrote that 'his influence will be felt for generations to come'.

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