Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age

Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age

by Fiona Maddock
     
 

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The twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen would have been remarkable in any age. Today, her growing reputation as a composer of religious music has overshadowed the astonishing variety of her accomplishments and her part in the scientific, cultural, and theological revolution of the pre-Renaissance, from religion and mysticism to medicine and sex.

Overview

The twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen would have been remarkable in any age. Today, her growing reputation as a composer of religious music has overshadowed the astonishing variety of her accomplishments and her part in the scientific, cultural, and theological revolution of the pre-Renaissance, from religion and mysticism to medicine and sex. Scivias, her book of apocalyptic visions, with its extraordinary and compelling illustrations, would alone have been enough to endure her lasting fame.

The story of Hildegard's life, from her entry into a monastery at Disibodenberg on the Rhine as a child, through the exploration of her pent-up genius in middle years, to her eventual admission to the German canon of saints, is here told against a rich background of the years of the Crusades, the flowering of monasticism, papal schism and heresy. The forceful character that emerges challenges any image of demurely subjugated womanhood associated with the period. Hildegard's story is as fascinating as that of any figure in the Middle Ages, and she and her musical legacy continue to be the subject of debate a thousand years later.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Maddocks adeptly shows why Hildegard continues to fascinate seekers.” —Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
Maddocks is the chief music critic of the Observer (London) and a founding editor of BBC Music magazine. Here she provides a carefully researched biography of Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century woman of many talents musician, theologian, monastic founder, preacher, visionary, abbess, healer, and even scientist. Although many studies of Hildegard or of aspects of her work exist (see, e.g., studies by Regine Pernoud, LJ 8/98, and Heinrich Schipperges, LJ 5/1/97), Maddocks's study is distinguished by its use of newly available manuscript material. She steers a judicious course between those uncritical venerators of Hildegard and those detractors who question the authorship of works attributed to her. She is therefore able to reveal Hildegard's true talents as "the creative will that controls the final image" in her art. Maddocks also shows Hildegard in all her contradictions (e.g., her conservative assertion of female subservience, which contrasts with much of her own behavior). Highly recommended for academic and public libraries as well as seminary collections and women's studies collections. Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Coll., Farmville, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385498685
Publisher:
The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/20/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.31(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Fiona Maddocks, an award-winning writer on music, is classical music critic of The Observer, UK. She writes for a number of publications and broadcasts regularly. Her book on Harrison Birtwistle, Wild Tracks - A Conversation Diary was published by Faber and Faber Ltd. in 2014

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