With this first volume of St. Teresa's letters, Kieran Kavanaugh has added to his exceptionally competent and helpful corpus of translations of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. The format is similar to that used in his versions of the Collected Works of each. There is a concise Introduction to St. Teresa's correspondence, followed by the Letters, then biographical sketches of most individuals mentioned or addressed in the letters, and finally an index of names and topics. Each letter is preceded by a brief introduction, and augmented by explanatory notes. No timetable is suggested for further volumes.
For those familiar with the spirituality of St. Teresa, these letters offer a most candid view of the more quotidian dimensions of her life. While she did write about herself (Life) and her work as foundress (Foundations), her private correspondence was not intended for publication. In these private letters the attentive reader can glimpse the difficulties of the church and Carmelites in sixteenth century Spain, some of the significant persons, and the daily cross of responsibilities borne by this great mystic and reformer. With regard to the last of these, one selection is illustrative. In a letter to her brother, dated January 17, 1570, she writes: "So, just at a time when I have come to abhor money and business affairs, the Lord desires that I deal with nothing else, which is no small cross. May it please His Majesty that I serve him in this manner, for all things will pass away" (p. 85).
As with all of Fr. Kavanaugh's work, this text demonstrates impeccable scholarship, sensitive translation, most helpful notes and index, and flawless editing. It is highly recommended for any library with a Teresian collection, for those who teach or work in the area of Carmelite spirituality or sixteenth century Spanish culture, and for any reader interested in the life and spirituality of St. Teresa. ICS Publications is to be commended for continuing to provide significant texts at remarkably reasonable prices.