Francis of Assisi: A New Biography [PDF]
06 April 2014, 23:12
2012 | PDF | 5.85MB
Among the most beloved saints in the Catholic tradition, Francis of Assisi (c. 1181–1226) is popularly remembered for his dedication to poverty, his love of animals and nature, and his desire to follow perfectly the teachings and example of Christ. During his lifetime and after his death, followers collected, for their own purposes, numerous stories, anecdotes, and reports about Francis. As a result, the man himself and his own concerns became lost in legend.
In this authoritative and engaging new biography, Augustine Thompson, O.P., sifts through the surviving evidence for the life of Francis using modern historical methods. The result is a complex yet sympathetic portrait of the man and the saint. Francis emerges from this account as very much a typical thirteenth-century Italian layman, but one who, when faced with unexpected crises in his personal life, made decisions so radical that they challenge his own society—and ours. Unlike the saint of legend, this Francis never had a unique divine inspiration to provide him with rules for following the teachings of Jesus. Rather, he spent his life reacting to unexpected challenges, before which he often found himself unprepared and uncertain. The Francis who emerges here is both more complex and more conflicted than that of older biographies. His famed devotion to poverty is found to be more nuanced than expected, perhaps not even his principal spiritual concern. Thompson revisits events small and large in Francis's life, including his troubled relations with his father, his contacts with Clare of Assisi, his encounter with the Muslim sultan, and his receiving the Stigmata, to uncover the man behind the legends and popular images.
A tour de force of historical research and biographical writing, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography is divided into two complementary parts—a stand alone biographical narrative and a close, annotated examination of the historical sources about Francis. Taken together, the narrative and the survey of the sources provide a much-needed fresh perspective on this iconic figure. "As I have worked on this biography," Thompson writes, "my respect for Francis and his vision has increased, and I hope that this book will speak to modern people, believers and unbelievers alike, and that the Francis I have come to know will have something to say to them today."
April Queen: Eleanor of Aquitaine [EPUB]
06 April 2014, 21:18
2011 | EPUB | 2.89MB
Recreating the turbulent life of one of the most exciting women in European medieval history, this biography reveals a peculiarly "modern" queen
Eleanor of Aquitaine was the only person ever to sit on the thrones of both France and England. This account of the adventures of the extraordinary mother of Richard the Lionheart and King John takes us into the heart and mind of the woman who changed the shape of Europe for 300 years by marrying Henry of Anjou, making him England’s Henry II. Eleanor was a European with a continent-wide vision and a woman who rejected the subordinate female role decreed by the Church. Brought up in the comfort- and culture-loving Mediterranean civilization of southern France, she also refused to be a consenting victim of ethnic cleansing. Using French, Old French, Latin, and Occitan sources, this biography lays bare as never before Eleanor’s relationships and vividly brings to life the world she knew.
Lee J. Cobb: Characters of an Actor [EPUB]
03 April 2014, 10:30
2014 | EPUB | 11.4MB
For many of his theater contemporaries, Lee J. Cobb (1911–1976) was the greatest actor of his generation. In Hollywood he became the definitive embodiment of gangsters, psychiatrists, and roaring lunatics. From 1939 until his death, Cobb contributed riveting performances to a number of films, including Boomerang, On the Waterfront, The Brothers Karamazov, 12 Angry Men, and The Exorcist. But for all of his conspicuous achievements in motion pictures, Cobb’s name is most identified with the character Willy Loman in the original stage production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949). Directed by Elia Kazan, Cobb’s Broadway performance proved to be a benchmark for American theater.
In Lee J. Cobb: Characters of an Actor, Donald Dewey looks at the life and career of this versatile performer. From his Lower East Side roots in New York City—where he was born Leo Jacob—to multiple accolades on stage and the big and small screens, Cobb’s life proved to be a tumultuous rollercoaster of highs and lows. As a leading man of the theater, he gave a number of compelling performances in such plays as Golden Boy and King Lear. For the Hollywood studios, Cobb fit the description of the “character actor.” No one better epitomized the performer who suddenly appears on the screen and immediately grabs the audience’s attention. During his forty-five-year career, there wasn’t a significant star—from Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart to Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood—with whom he didn’t work.
Cobb was also followed by controversy: he appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and was a witness to a movie-set murder case in the 1970s. Through it all, he never lost his taste for fast cars and gin rummy. A bear of a man with a voice that equally accommodated growls and sibilant sympathies, Cobb was undeniably an actor to be reckoned with. In this fascinating book, Dewey captures all of the drama that surrounded Cobb, both on screen and off.