The Consolation of Philosophy

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Overview

An eminent public figure under the Gothic emperor Theodoric, Boethius (c. AD 475-525) was also an exceptional Greek scholar and it was to the Greek philosophers that he turned when he fell from favour and was imprisoned in Pavia. Written in the period leading up to his brutal execution, it is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing prisoner and his 'nurse' Philosophy, whose instruction on the nature of fortune and happiness, good and evil, fate and free will, restores his health and brings him to enlightenment.

The clarity of Boethius's thought and his breadth of vision made The Consolation of Philosophy hugely popular throughout medieval Europe and his ideas suffused the thought of Chaucer and Dante. This translation makes it accessible to the modern reader while losing nothing of Boethius's poetic artistry and philosophical brilliance.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Slavitt, a poet and translator of over 80 works of fiction, poetry, and drama, presents a new translation of this philosophical classic directed at general readers. Written under the threat of Boethius's impending execution, the work comes on the cusp between the classical and medieval worlds. In alternating prose and verse, Boethius spins a dialog concerning the harsh vicissitudes of fortune and the lasting happiness provided by the life of the mind. Slavitt's prose translation is accessible and makes frequent use of colloquialisms. His poetic translations-too often paraphrased in earlier editions-are not weighed down with attempted fidelities to ancient meter and use contemporary forms to evoke the gravity and grace of the original. While the book does include a brief biographical and textual introduction by Seth Lerer (English & comparative literature, Stanford Univ.), its lack of textual apparatus makes this edition less than ideal for students. It does succeed, however, as a springboard for personal reflection and a source of literate pleasure. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.-Steven Chabot, Univ. of Toronto

openlettersmonthly.com

It's a remarkable book (though a short one), and its latest edition, rendered into fluid, compellingly immediate English by veteran translator David R. Slavitt, is very markedly the best one it's ever had...Slavitt presents the reader with Boethius brought to vibrant, vigorous life, to a degree that makes all previous English versions seem pedantic and irrelevant. Harvard University Press has crafted a physically beautiful volume, sturdy and small enough to fit in your pocket—an extremely fitting format for a book that's meant to be a comfort against life's ills. Reading this edition, even readers who've never encountered Boethius before will see at once why his book has meant so much to so many people for the last 1,500 years.
— Steve Donoghue

Books and Culture

This is a beautifully made little book that I have taken with me on a number of trips, partly just for the pleasure of holding it. At any time I would be glad to have it.
— John Wilson

Henry Taylor
This is a sensitive and readable translation, whose poetic merits place it beyond other translations of Boethius's great text.
Gail Holst-Warhaft
A remarkable translation of one of the great masterpieces of philosophical literature.
openlettersmonthly.com - Steve Donoghue
It's a remarkable book (though a short one), and its latest edition, rendered into fluid, compellingly immediate English by veteran translator David R. Slavitt, is very markedly the best one it's ever had...Slavitt presents the reader with Boethius brought to vibrant, vigorous life, to a degree that makes all previous English versions seem pedantic and irrelevant. Harvard University Press has crafted a physically beautiful volume, sturdy and small enough to fit in your pocket--an extremely fitting format for a book that's meant to be a comfort against life's ills. Reading this edition, even readers who've never encountered Boethius before will see at once why his book has meant so much to so many people for the last 1,500 years.
Books and Culture - John Wilson
This is a beautifully made little book that I have taken with me on a number of trips, partly just for the pleasure of holding it. At any time I would be glad to have it.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David R. Slavitt is a poet and the translator of more than ninety works of fiction, poetry, and drama.

Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego.

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Table of Contents

Preface viii
Introduction xi
I Introductory xi
II Boethius' Life and Writings xiii
III The Consolation of Philosophy xxii
IV The Christianity of Boethius xxxii
V The Text xxxv
Book I3
Book II22
Book III47
Book IV85
Book V116
Bibliography 139
Glossary 143
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2011

    Bad format

    The spelling is messed up. Doesn't have right format, don't download.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    Doesn't work

    Doesn't work

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    Thanks Google for ruining this one

    Honestly I cannot tell you how this book is because Google's scan of it on my Nook was HORRIFIC! Garbled characters, format issues and illegible jibberish made it an impossible read.

    After clicking through 20 pages of useless pages - I gave up.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2000

    A companion in the dark

    A stunning work of combined Christian and pagan thought, and a testament to personal courage in the face of physical annihilation, I found this book to be excellent at bringing me out of a deep despair.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2002

    Beautiful and Amazing

    This book is beautifully written, expressing into words truly remarkable conclusions (and ideas) about life. A must read for those who enjoy philosophical ventures.

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    Posted December 25, 2011

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    Posted December 14, 2011

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted January 25, 2010

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    Posted December 13, 2009

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