The Story of My Misfortunes (or: Historia Calamitatum)
Date: January 2016
Duration: 2 hours 34 minutes
Autobiographies from remote historical periods can be especially fascinating. Modes of self-presentation vary greatly across the centuries, as of course does the very concept of Self.
Peter Abelard, the medieval philosopher and composer, here gives a concise but vivid survey of his notoriously calamitous life. The work is couched in the form of a letter to an afflicted friend. Abelard's abrasively competitive, often arrogant personality emerges at once in the brief Foreword, where he informs his correspondent: "(I)n comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought.. and so shall you come to bear them the more easily." (Summary by Martin Geeson)