Writings on the Sober Life

Writings on the Sober Life: The Art and Grace of Living Long

Alvise Cornaro
Edited and translated, with additional notes by Hiroko Fudemoto
Foreword by Greg Critser
Introduction and Essay by Marisa Milani
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5vkhgn
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  • Book Info
    Writings on the Sober Life
    Book Description:

    This edition offers the most coherent, uncensored, and complete rendering of this Early Modern classic ever available in English.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6834-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xxvi)
    Greg Critser

    If one were asked to name a telling aspect of the early twenty-first century, one would be hard pressed to come up with something better than the subject of aging. For the first time in history, elderly populations are overtaking young populations in both numbers and influence. The phenomenon is global; its impact wide and deep.

    Hence today’s newfound interest in longevity or, rather, pro-longevity—the belief that one can beat traditional aging and live an extra-long healthy life. Like Cicero, who believed that we ought to “treat aging as we would a disease,”¹ the contemporary immortalist seeks the “end...

  4. Note on the Translation
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
    Hiroko Fudemoto
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxi-2)
  6. Introduction to Cornaro
    (pp. 3-71)
    Marisa Milani

    “Trattato de la Vita Sobria” [treatise on the sober life] appeared in November 1558, printed by Grazioso Percacino of Padua. Cornaro followed it up with three other works, which – collected and published by his grandson in 1591 under the general titleDiscorsi della Vita Sobria[discourses on the sober life] – became a worldwide success. The present work proposes the first complete and corrected edition of Cornaro’s texts, and a review of the history of their birth and their long and fortunate life.

    “I similarly entrust to my commisioners mentioned above the treatises written by me on the conservation of the...

  7. Letter to Bishop Cornelio Musso by Bernardino Tomitano To the Most Reverend and Most Worthy Monsignor Cornelio Bishop of Bitonto
    (pp. 72-74)

    The reverence and love, the former as great as the latter is glorious, which the Magnificent Messer Luigi* Cornaro conveys to your Most Reverend Lordship, has brought me to the task I presently undertake, to make known under your honoured name** this brief work no less beautiful than it is enjoyable, no less enjoyable than it is beneficial to the world. On the one hand I knew about this honest desire on the part of the Author, and on the other he showed his no less infinite diffidence. Therefore, eager with this humble gesture of gratitude to fulfill his desire...

  8. A Treatise on the Sober Life by the Magnificent Messer Luigi Cornaro, Noble Venetian
    (pp. 75-101)

    To be sure, over time a man’s habit becomes his nature,⁷ obliging him to use it either well or poorly. Similarly, we see that in many things habit is stronger than reason, which we cannot deny; rather, we often see that a good person using and practising a habit with someone wicked, becomes wicked. The good person he once was becomes bad. We also see the opposite, that is, since a good habit can easily change to bad, so it is that the bad can return to good; because then we find that this wicked person – who once was good...

  9. Addition to the Treatise on the Sober Life by Messer Alvise Cornaro
    (pp. 102-106)

    I wrote my Treatise on the Sober Life in the hope and desire of helping many others, knowing from experience that it conserves a man’s health and gives him long life, and is something easily maintained; because if it were difficult to do I could not have followed it, since I am but a man. Nor, however, have I yet heard that others have adopted this way of life. And though it is praised by all, it was nonetheless avoided by all, almost abhorred, as if it were depraved and not the daughter of blessed and virtuous Continence, born of...

  10. A Brief Compendium of The Sober Life by Alvise Cornaro With Many Things Added, Especially Useful and Necessary for Those Who Are Old
    (pp. 107-116)

    My Treatise on the Sober Life, as I had hoped, has begun to help those born with a poor complexion, while with each episode and every little disorder they have owing to their weak complexion, they feel so indisposed they could not possibly feel worse; something that cannot really happen to those born with a good complexion. And so in order to live healthy, those with a bad one, having read my Treatise, have adopted the [sober] life, reassured how beneficial it is by my experience. For this reason, I would like to help those born with a good complexion,...

  11. Letter Written by the Magnificent Alvise Cornaro to the Most Reverend Barbaro, Patriarch Elect of Aquileia
    (pp. 117-123)

    Truly the intellect of man has something of the divine, and what a divine thing it was when it found the means through writing to converse with another far away. It was then completely divine for Nature to have the one so far away see the other through the eyes of thought, as I am seeing your Lordship, and in this manner to converse with you on agreeable things that benefit us a great deal. It is very true that it will be talk about a matter discussed at other times, but not at this my age of ninety-one years,⁶⁵...

  12. A Loving Exhortation by the Magnificent Messer Alvise Cornaro
    (pp. 124-130)

    Not to neglect the obligation to which every living being is held, and so as not to lose altogether the great pleasure I find in being helpful, I wanted to write this and let those who do not know – not practising [a sober life] – all that is known and understood by the ones who practise what I do. And because, to some, certain things seemed impossible and difficult to believe though nonetheless true – being and seeing these things for themselves in actuality – I will not be remiss in writing them down for the benefit of everyone. And on this, I...

  13. Eulogy for Alvise Cornaro
    (pp. 131-139)

    O Great and Eternal God on High, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to You I turn my eyes, my mind, and my heart that You may grant me the grace to say all that I should, nor do I ask this of you Phoebus or of you Muses, as [the Lord] is high above you. Thus, it is to You Lord the First Cause that I pray,* that granting me [grace] might please You, for without it I could not nor would I know how to speak of the many virtues of this man so rare, filled with continence, charity, goodness,...

  14. Selected Letters
    (pp. 140-182)

    Your letter is one of approval of me because it is a sign that you remember me with love, and that you care about my life. And it is also one of enormous disapproval when, according to you, I am doing what is harmful and shameful to myself, for which you reprimand me. So then, in part I thank you, and in part I must justify myself, and if I cannot or do not wish to amend my ways, at least through words, it will thus not seem that my none sober life – in which many others, rather, nobles, keep...

  15. How to Attain Immortality Living One Hundred Years, or, The Fortune of the Vita Sobria in the Anglo-Saxon World
    (pp. 183-213)
    Marisa Milani

    It was during 1763 when Mr. Thomas Wood, resident of the village Billericary in the County of Essex, miller by profession, big eater and big beer drinker, began to grow noticeably fat. By forty years of age, he was very fat and at forty-four he had begun to feel the first disturbances brought on by his bulging obesity: “he first began to be disturbed in his sleep, and to complain of the heart-burn, of frequent sickness at his stomach, pains in the bowels, head ache, and vertigo. He was sometimes costive, at other times the opposite extreme; had almost a...

  16. Selected Terminology
    (pp. 214-222)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-228)
  18. Index
    (pp. 229-251)