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Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine by…

Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine (1996)

by Jostein Gaarder

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A fictional novella-length letter giving the reactions of Floria, St. Augustine of Hippo's concubine who he abandoned, to his Confessions.

I enjoyed the debunking of the Confessions, and her insistence that God's creation is to be enjoyed, not despised. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Feb 28, 2013 |
Considering the many classical allusions in this work, it is fitting that the conceit — of assuming a female persona writing to her lover — should come from classical literature (Ovid's Heroides). That the conceit as used in Gaarder's book was so effective is clear from the number of readers who entertain the idea that the letter is genuine.This is a short work, so it obviously can't be expected to reach the same scope as Sophie's World or the Solitaire Mystery, but even so, it lacks the philosophical acumen of the former and the sheer creativity of the latter. I can give you the thrust of the letter in one sentence: life is short, so you should enjoy it while you can. Aside from perhaps a few choice moments, I don't think you'll get much more out of this book than out of that sentence. You're welcome to try, but then perhaps life is too short? ( )
  esilke | May 20, 2011 |
I admit now that I haven't read St Augustine's Confessions. This is a letter supposedly written by the woman who he had a relationship with before entering the church. Memories of their life together and direct answers to points he makes in the Confessions become in some way a condemnation of the misogynistic, self denying way that his life has gone. If God created man and woman; the five senses; the world and its beauty why should it be part of life and religion to deny any part of God's creation? I can see why this might be a book that people could have differing opinions about but I'll say that I thought it asked questions that are worth considering and I found it an interesting read. ( )
  calm | Sep 10, 2010 |
Bought Jostein Gaarder's "Vita Brevis" at Fully Booked the other day and I must admit that I’m very much disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much admire Gaarder's works...but this work proved to be misleading. I’m still not finished reading it (bogged down with writing e-mails of English lesson corrections to my students) so maybe it might be able to redeem itself by having a good ending...so here's hoping.

The book promises:
In a second-hand bookshop in Buenos Aires, Jostein Gaarder makes an exciting find: a transcript of a letter to St Augustine, author of the famous Confessions, from Floria Aemilia, the woman he renounced for chastity.

I was curious about the plot, I honestly thought that it'll be an answer or an undiscovered continuation of St. Augustine's "Confessions" but it proved to be a mere translation of his concubine's supposed love letters to the former. This is a very intense love letter, at times bitter, at times mocking but beautifully written and very articulate. It's both a personal attack on St Augustine and the institution of the Church that he discarded his lover for.

Book Details:

Title Vita Brevis: A Letter to St. Augustine
Author Jostein Gaarder
Reviewed By Purplycookie ( )
  purplycookie | Apr 10, 2009 |
Author of Sophie's World shows us all he's not just a one trick pony with this superb pastiche of a letter to St. Augustine from the woman he scorned. Nicely done, with 'translator's' footnotes and lashings of attributions to Latin authors. ( )
  gerundivalattraction | Jan 19, 2009 |
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Quando visitai la Fiera del Linro di Buenos Aires, nella primavera del 1995, mi fu raccomandato di riservare una mattinata al famoso mercato delle pulci di San Telmo.

È strano salutarti in questo modo. Molto, moltissimo tempo fa avrei scritto semplicemente "al mio voluttuoso Aurelio". Ma sono passati più di dieci anni da quando mi stringevi forte, e molte cose sono cambiate.
Non credo in un Dio che, per salvare l'anima di un uomo, costringe una donna a sprecare la propria vita.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0753804611, Paperback)

A box of Ltin manuscripts comes to light in an Argentine flea market. An apocyphral invention by some 17th or 18th century scolar, or a transcrpit of what it appears to be - a hitherto unheard of letter to St Augustine to a woman he renounced for chastity? VITA BREVIS is both an entrancing human document and a fascinating insight into the life and philosophy of St.Augustine. Gaarder'sinterpretation of Floria's letter is as playful, inventive and questioning as Sophie's World.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In a second-hand bookshop in Buenos Aires, Jostein Gardner makes an exciting find: a transcript of a letter to St Augustine, author of the famous Confessions, from Floria Aemilia, the woman he renounced for chastity. --From publisher's description.

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