While providing quite a balanced and exceedingly well-researched overview of the life of Hutten, this fairly slim volume necessarily leaves out a lot...moreWhile providing quite a balanced and exceedingly well-researched overview of the life of Hutten, this fairly slim volume necessarily leaves out a lot of historical context. While it was deliberately revised from the German original for English-specking audiences under the presumption that late-Medieval German history is not exactly common knowledge in that market, I found that I needed to turn to Wikipedia routinely to fill in what felt like blanks: the identities of the Roman Popes in the era addressed; the political structure of the estates in the Holy Roman Empire; what exactly is meant by the term "humanism" in this context; the philosophical underpinnings of the humanist–scholastic debate; and the like. I probably spent almost as much time digging through other sources as I did reading the book itself. Nevertheless, it is a solid overview of the man himself and a good launching pad for further study, if you're into that sort of thing, and frankly there's not much competition in the market for Hutten studies in English as there is in German.(less)
It may be worth noting that the author considers the protagonist to be a sort of "Eternal Victim" aspect of the Eternal Champion, though I find that to be a stretch. The sequel, Breakfast in the Ruins seems from its description to fit still less well; there are those who argue that, despite the Karl Glogauer of each book having substantially the same background, they may not be the same person, and perhaps "sequel" isn't quite the right word. Given the multiverse concept Moorcock pioneered, could they be parallel Karl Glogauers living on slightly variant Earths? Who knows? And for these stories, even asking is a sign that one is thinking too hard (or writing a dissertation).
In any case, I enjoyed this book despite its minor flaws and blasphemies and the rather ridiculous twist that makes it clear the author was not shooting for the same territory as Kazantzakis. But if what draws you to Moorcock is solely the sword-and-sorcery fare, then be forewarned: this is not that.(less)
This edition is based on the translation of E. Allison Peers, itself based on the latest Spanish critical editions of the time. However, two chapters...moreThis edition is based on the translation of E. Allison Peers, itself based on the latest Spanish critical editions of the time. However, two chapters (3 and 5) pertaining directly to life in a religious order have been eliminated from this popular edition for lack of broader appeal. The present editor has further modernized the language, replacing archaic terms with modern English equivalents (e.g., Thou to You) and shifting passive to active voice.
This certainly makes for a livelier read and opens Teresa's text to a potentially broader audience, leaving it an excellent primer for those seeking an introduction to Roman Catholic mysticism in the Spanish tradition. Nevertheless, I find that the looser language is less useful for scholarship and a deeper understanding of the practices, while also losing some of Teresa's characteristic voice. I hope to have the opportunity to compare it more directly with the Peers edition in the future, and recommend that to more advanced students of religious practice in preference to this.(less)
**spoiler alert** This edition is strictly for the scholars. The prose is of the difficult late-Medieval sort, with lots of interminable run-on senten...more**spoiler alert** This edition is strictly for the scholars. The prose is of the difficult late-Medieval sort, with lots of interminable run-on sentences, archaic terminology, and (by modern standards) distorted grammar that is hard to follow. That said, it clearly shows the origin of the Faust tale later adapted more masterfully by Marlowe in Elizabethan theatrical English and Goethe in poetic German.
The Wagner section, however, I felt to be an even bigger disappointment. The first half picks up the story from the death of his master Faustus, but the Wagner character seems decided flatter than even the bit-role he had in the previous work, despite his ostensible position here as protagonist. In fact, he hardly counts at all. The latter half is given over almost entirely to a description of the Saracens siege of Vienna, in which Wagner, Faustus, Mephistopheles and Ackercoke all have minor mostly comedic roles and which almost certainly never happened. It certainly has little to do with the grander themes of Faust.
So, unless you are making a particular study of the Faust myth, I believe you can safely give this one a miss.(less)