The present contribution deals with excess in medieval and early modern monastic asceticism. It claims that excess, in this context, is not an individual option, but a general problem inherent to Christian asceticism. By giving priority to self-denial, this type of asceticism promotes a self-regulated, autonomous subjectivity which is clearly an unintentional by-product of the asceticism. Therefore individual asceticism oscillates between prohibited self-fashioning and, as a response, intensified self-denial. The problem is outlined in an introductory chapter about ‘De exterioris et interioris hominis compositione’ by David of Augsburg. Following this, two early modern Spanish books are used to illustrate how spiritual texts deal with the ambivalences of asceticism. The ‘Exercitatorio de la vida spiritual’ by García Jiménez de Cisneros regulates asceticism in detail, while the ‘Subida del monte Sión’ by Bernardino de Laredo allows the subject more room for interpretation; this however comes at the price of a fictionalisation of asceticism.
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