Autobiographies from remote historical periods can be especially fascinating.
Modes of self-presentation vary greatly across the centuries, as of course does
the very concept of Self.
Peter Abelard, the medieval philosopher and composer, here gives a concise
but vivid survey of his notoriously calamitous life. The work is couched in the
form of a letter to an afflicted friend. Abelard's abrasively competitive, often
arrogant personality emerges at once in the brief Foreword, where he informs his
correspondent: "(I)n comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that
yours are in truth nought… and so shall you come to bear them the more easily."
(Summary by Martin Geeson)
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