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Imagining the Pagan in Late Medieval England

Imagining the Pagan in Late Medieval England by Sarah Salih 1843845407 9781843845409
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ISBN: 1843845407

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SHORTLISTED for the 2020 Katharine Briggs Award.
Late medieval English culture was fascinated by the figure of the pagan, the ancestor whose religious difference must be negotiated, and by the pagans idol, an animate artefact. In romances, histories and hagiographies medieval Christians told the story of the pagans, focussing on the absence or presence of pagan material culture in the medieval world to ask whether the pagan era had completely ended or whether it might persist into the Christian present.
This book reads the imagined history of the long term relationship between pagan and Christian through quasi-factual fifteenth-century Middle English writings. John Lydgates Troy Book describes the foundation of a Troy that is at once Londons ancestor and a vision for its future; he, John Capgrave and Reginald Pecock consider how pagans were able to build idols that attracted spirits to inhabit them. The hagiographies of Osbern Bokenham, Alexander Barclay, Capgrave and Lydgate describe the confrontation of saint and idol, and the saints appropriation for Christians of the city the pagans built. Traces of the pagan appeared in the medieval present: Capgrave, Lydgateand John Metham contemplated both extant and lost artefacts; Lollards and orthodox writers disputed whether Christian devotional practice had pagan aspects; and Mandevilles Travels sympathetically imagined how pagans mightexplain themselves.

Dr SARAH SALIH is Senior Lecturer in Medieval English, Kings College London.

Author: Sarah Salih

Language: English

Binding: Hardcover

Pages: 221

Publisher: D.S. Brewer

Publication Date: 2019-08-16

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