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

  • ISBN-13: 9783842475458
  • Publisher: TREDITION CLASSICS
  • Publication date: 12/2/2011
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.46 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One of A Kind

    This book has made my top ten for best readings. The book is basically a dialect between Boethius and "Lady Philosophy." It takes place while he is in prison, questioning everything relating to man, power, greed, fear, lonliness, and God. It answers many questions that we people ask even in today's world. For example, why are people in high positions, like CEO's and leaders, so corrupt or evil to people they consider lower than them. This is one debate that he asks and Lady Philosophy answers. Also, this book is very comprehensive to all readers--whether you're a philosophy major or not. I would recommend this book to everybody because it will prove to be motivational throughout your life, and this book will be able to answer many key questions towards the attitudes of people who transgress against you at times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 23, 2009

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