The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography
Carlos Eire, the T.L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies
(Princeton University Press)
“The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila” is considered among the most remarkable accounts ever written of the human encounter with the divine. The “Life” is not really an autobiography at all, but rather a confession written for inquisitors by a nun whose raptures and mystical claims had aroused suspicion. Despite its troubled origins, the book has had a profound impact on Christian spirituality for five centuries, attracting admiration from readers as diverse as mystics, philosophers, artists, psychoanalysts, and neurologists. How did a manuscript once kept under lock and key by the Spanish Inquisition become one of the most inspiring religious books of all time?
Carlos Eire tells the story of this spiritual masterpiece, examining its composition and reception in the 16th century, the various ways its mystical teachings have been interpreted and reinterpreted across time, and its enduring influence in our own secular age. “The Life” became an iconic text of the Counter-Reformation, was revered in Franco’s Spain, and has gone on to be read as a feminist manifesto, a literary work, and even as a secular text. But as Eire demonstrates, Teresa’s confession is a cry from the heart to God and a portrayal of mystical theology as a search for love.