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Pilgrimage in Medieval English Literature, 700-1500by Dee Dyas
Synopses & Reviews
The meaning of pilgrimage and its development 700-1500, reflected in contemporary writings.
What did the idea of pilgrimage mean to medieval writers? This wide-ranging survey follows its origins and development through the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the influences of classical pagan religion and the impulses of popular devotion. It then traces the ways in which the meanings of pilgrimage were incorporated into medieval spirituality and literature, offering fresh perspectives on Old English poetry and Middle English texts such as the Canterbury Tales, Piers Plowman, Pearl, The Book of Margery Kempe.
Book News Annotation:
Director of the Society for the Study of Medieval Christianity and Culture, Dyas sets out the different elements that comprise medieval pilgrimage, beginning with the origins and early development of Christian pilgrimage. She then traces how the multiple interpretations of pilgrimage were incorporated into the spirituality of the Anglo- Saxon church, and examines their influence on Old English and later medieval literature. She concludes that the life of a pilgrim encompassed interior, moral, and place pilgrimages.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Pilgrims are so frequently encountered in the pages of Middle English literature that it is easy to take their presence, and their significance, for granted. The pilgrimage motif is all too frequently simply accepted as a 'given' of medieval spirituality, its presence noted but its meaning seldom analysed. This study therefore asks several fundamental but hitherto largely ignored questions. What exactly did pilgrimage mean to medieval writers? How well did various understandings of pilgrimage combine within medieval spirituality? Who were the true pilgrims - those who travelled to saints' shrines, those who withdrew into the cloister or the anchorite's cell, or those who simply walked the path of daily obedience?In answering these questions, this wide-ranging survey of the origins and development of the pilgrim motif examines the development of Christian pilgrimage through the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the influences of classical pagan religion and the impulses of popular devotion. It then traces the ways in which the resulting multiple meanings of pilgrimage were incorporated into medieval spirituality and literature, offering fresh perspectives on Old English poetry and prose together with Middle English texts such a the Canterbury Tales, Piers Plowman, Pearl and the Book of Margery Kempe. Dr DEE DYAS is director of the Society for the Study of Medieval Christianity and Culture.
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