Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

I haven't had much time for this blog lately, as I've been very busy with term papers and exams as well as preparations for the De U (the oral comprehensive exam in philosophy taken by Jesuit scholastics). I will continue to be busy for the next couple of weeks, but I hope to post something now and then. Today, I wanted to share a gem of a footnote from the English translation of Dom Lucien Regnault's The Day-to-Day Life of the Desert Fathers in Fourth-Century Egypt, a book that I consulted for one of my term papers. A monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes, Regnault wrote extensively on the history of Christian monasticism. In this footnote (found on p. 24 of the book, if you really must know), he criticizes the work of another scholar, Jacques Lacarrière, only to incur the criticism of his own editor:
The same author [Jacques Lacarrière] unfortunately invented a Mary of Egypt (Marie d'Égypte, Paris, 1983) whom he claims lived and died in the desert in a manner which honors neither women nor the Fathers of the Desert. [Ed. note: Contrary to the author's statement here, Lacarrière did not "invent" Mary of Egypt. Her story has been told in monastic circles in the East since the sixth century. See Benedicta Ward, Harlots of the Desert, p. 26.]
Like Regnault's editor, I'm a bit baffled that such a learned scholar would suggest that Mary of Egypt was invented in the 20th century. (Then again, I'm biased.) More than that, though, I'm amused that the editor chose to add a bracketed correction to this misstatement when he just as easily could have deleted it from the book. It's not unusual to encounter academic sparring in footnotes, but I've never come across anything quite like this. AMDG.


At 4/25/2009 3:47 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ah, the very subtle signs of academic disputes! Someone could have a field day with it all...

Good luck (and prayers for) upcoming exams and papers!


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