Starting from the premise of the letter as literary artefact, with a potential for ambiguity, irony and textual allusion, this innovative analysis of the correspondence between the Cluniac abbot, Peter the Venerable, and the future saint, Bernard of Clairvaux, challenges the traditional use of these letters as a source for historical and (auto)biographical reconstruction. Applying techniques drawn from modern theories of epistolarity and contemporary literary criticism to letters treated as whole constructs, Knight demonstrates the presence of a range of manipulative strategies and argues for the consequent production of a significant degree of fictionalisation. She traces the emergence of an epistolarly sequence which forms a kind of extended narrative, drawing its authority from Augustine and Jerome, and rooted in classical rhetoric. The work raises important implications both for the study of relations between Cluniacs and Cistercians in the first half of the 12th century and for the approach to letter-writing as a whole.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Letter-writing and friendship reconsidered; Sanctity and rebuke: the relationship between Bernard's Apologia and Peter's letter 28; The proof of caritas: Peter, letter 65; Bernard, ep. 147; Fraudulent alms and monstrous election: Peter, letter 29; Reproach, iocus and debate: Bernard, ep. 228; Peter, letter 111; The salt of caritas: letter 111 continued; Bitterness and sweetness: Bernard, ep. 387; Peter, letter 149; Salvation, damnation and cohabitatio: Peter, letter 150; A new crusade: Bernard, ep. 364; Peter, letter 164; Duplicity or simplicity: Peter, letters 175 and 181; Bernard, ep. 265; An epistolary closure: Peter, letter 192; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
'... an attractively readable yet scholarly study which contains much of interest for historian, theologian, and student of medieval literature alike.' Medium Aevum 'Gillian Knight's immensely rich and detailed study of one of the best known epistolary exchanges of the twelfth century is [...] a most welcome addition to the literature.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History