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That Same Flower: Floria Aemilia's Letter to Saint Augustine

Gaarder, Jostein; Born, Anne

ISBN 10: 0374253846 / ISBN 13: 9780374253844
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1998
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From SYLVESTER & ORPHANOS (SAN MARCOS, CA, U.S.A.)

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0374253846 Author of "Sophie's World.". Bookseller Inventory # 005513

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Bibliographic Details

Title: That Same Flower: Floria Aemilia's Letter to...

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T)

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A fictional love letter to St. Augustine from Floria Aemilia, his longtime concubine, by the author of "Sophie's World". A true historical figure, Floria lived with St. Augustine for over a decade, during which time they had a son together. He "renounced" her when he elected to spend the rest of his life abstaining from sensual love. In some sense a feminist missive, this passionate and occasionally erotic letter challenged the Church's view of women and of love .

Review:

In his first and most famous novel, Sophie's World, the Norwegian Jostein Gaarder took on the entire history of Western philosophy, neatly sandwiching Socrates, Sartre, and everybody in between into a series of letters to a 14-year-old schoolgirl. This time around, Gaarder has again produced a philosophical novel in epistolary form. In That Same Flower, however, he narrows his focus to a single figure--St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, whose classic Confessions anticipated the current memoir boom by almost 16 centuries. The saint himself fails to get a word in edgewise. Instead, the book consists of a long, grief-stricken letter from his former mistress, Floria Aemilia (a figure whom the author has reconstructed from passing references in Augustine's own writings). This most articulate correspondent has a good many bones to pick with her former lover; he abandoned her on several different occasions, often at the behest of his 4th-century yenta of a mother, and kept her from the child they had together. Yet along with these personal matters (and perhaps inseparable from them) is Floria's critique of Christian dogma--particularly the ascetic tradition that Augustine embodied. Deriding his renunciation of all earthly pleasures, she reminds him of the good old precelibate days: "Can you still remember how you stroked me all over and seemed to tighten every bud before it opened?... And then you went away and sold me for the sake of your soul's salvation! What infidelity, Aurel, what guilt! No, I don't believe in a God who demands human sacrifices. I don't believe in a God who lays waste to a woman's life in order to save a man's soul." An erudite and intelligent argument on behalf of the senses, That Same Flower is also an oddly moving love story--or at least half of one--with an unmistakable feminist twist.

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