GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English Mary Theresa Hall, Ph.D., had her review of the book “Ethics of the Art of Living Well: By Means of Knowledge of the Truth About Man, Sin and Virtue,” by D.V. Coornhert and translated by Gerrit Voogt published in a leading academic journal focused on the 16th century.
Hall’s review was published in the Winter 2018 edition of The Sixteenth-Century Journal: The Journal of Early Modern Studies, Vol. xlix, No. 4. Since its inception in 1969, the journal publishes about 25 articles and more than 400 book reviews each year.
Hall said in her review that Coornhert, an early modern Dutch moralist, writer, translator, activist, freethinker, and longtime advisor of William of Orange, amplified Aristotle’s definition of happiness by providing a sweeping study of what constitutes “the good life.”
Voogt provides an easy-to-follow translation of the first systemic ethical treatise and book of moral instruction to appear in an early modern European vernacular. It includes chapters on “The Passions,” “The Means By Which Virtue Can Be Attained,” “Wisdom,” “Justice,” “Fortitude,” and “Temperance.” The relevance and lucidity of this easily comprehensible translation and its adherence to the original work is commendable and indispensable for scholarship on ethics, Hall said.
Hall cites the literary devices and poems that abound in the work. Occasionally, a chapter ends with a proverb synthesized into a couplet such as the following, which portrays the use of poetry to convey virtues and vices to the early modern people:
“He truly deserves the people’s contempt and God’s curse
Who rather than the common wealth seeks to enrich his own purse.”
Coornhert’s intent in writing the guidebook Ethics was to assist the common person in seeking happiness and the good life, an intent that was certainly met in this publication and furthered by Voogt’s lucid and accessible translation.
Hall received a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary certification in English and French from Seton Hill University; a master’s degree in literature from Carnegie Mellon University and a doctorate from Duquesne University.
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