Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Visionary Life of Madre Ana De San Agustín

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Visionary Life of Madre Ana De San Agustín

Article excerpt

The Visionary Life of Madre Ana de San Agustín, ed. and introd. Elizabeth Teresa Howe, Colección Támesis, Serie B: Textos 46 (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2004). xiv +131 pp.; 16 black-and-white plates. ISBN 1-85566-103-9. £45.00/$75.00. Madre Ana de San Agustín (155 5-1624), a member of the Discalced Carmelite reform under Santa Teresa de Ávila, dictated two autobiographical narratives (the Relación que hizp de su vida and the much shorter Segunda relación de la vida) between 1606 and 1 609. The texts, which offer a vivid and evocative insight into the female religious experience in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, are included in this volume along with a substantial introductory study. Elizabeth Teresa Howe's analysis falls into six uneven parts, with a discussion of sources followed by a biography of Ana's life and an analysis of her visions of heaven and hell. Three shorter sections look more fleetingly at her relationship with Santa Teresa, the style of her narratives, and issues relating to manuscript sources and editorial conventions. The texts that follow are transcriptions of Biblioteca Nacional 6.472 and 13.571, and are presented as faithfully as possible, with Howe retaining almost all of the spelling, punctuation, and capitalization of her originals. Her technique in this respect provides a unique insight into the idiosyncratic styling of her sources, and a curious feature is the preservation of two aspects of Ana's own punctuation, with '+' introducing the words of Christ, and '*', those of Santa Teresa. Authenticity, however, is not without drawbacks, and with no attempt at regularization, orthographic or otherwise, the texts are not always easy to follow. …

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