Goscelin of St Bertin's 'Book of Encouragement and Consolation' (Liber Confortatorius) is extraordinary both as an example of high-medieval spiritual practice and as a record of a personal relationship. Written in about 1083 by the monk Goscelin to a protegee and personal friend, the recluse Eva, it takes up the tradition of St Jerome's letters of spiritual guidance to women, and anticipates medieval advice literature for anchoresses. As a compendious treatise, incorporating numerous exempla, excerpts from theological discussions, and advice on meditative practice, it has much to tell us about the intellectual interests and preoccupations of religious people in the late eleventh century. As a personal document, it allows a fascinating and uncommonly intimate insight into the psychology of religious life, the sense of self, the construction of gender, and the relationships between men and women in the high middle ages.
Provides ambitious students of the Middle Ages with a rare opportunity to experience in English the complex, rich, and often impenetrable world of the monastic imagination, as dazzling in what it reveals as it is frustrating for what it conceals. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW