Biblical Paradigms in Medieval English Literature
From Cædmon to Malory
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This book examines the intricate and unusual relationship between the sacred and secular spheres of English medieval culture, positing that the assimilation of sacred and secular motifs could be in either direction, or even in both directions. That is, medieval English writers could appropriate biblical paradigms to express secular themes, and vice versa. Codicological, psychoanalytic, feminist, and new historicist insights inform readings of Beowulf, Middle English lyric poetry, the Gawain-poet, Chaucer, and Malory, among others. Besserman elucidates the structural and thematic complexity of the integration of biblical and biblically derived sacred diction, imagery, character types, and themes in the works under consideration, identifying within them new biblical sources and analogues and providing fresh insights into the contextual meaning and significance of the biblical paradigms they deploy. This book highlights the shaping influence of biblical and biblically derived sacred paradigms on exemplary literature produced in the middle Ages.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1: Biblical Paradigms in Old English Verse: Cædmon’s Hymn, Exodus, and Beowulf 2: Sacred and Secular in the Middle English Lyric: ‘Maiden in the Moor Lay’ and ‘I Sing of a Maiden 3: Sacred and Secular in the World of Romance: The Idea of the Green Knight 4: Biblical Analogies and the Language of Love in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde 5: Chivalry and the Scandal of the Sacred in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur Conclusion
Lawrence Besserman is Professor of English, emeritus, at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; he has also taught at Columbia, Harvard, and NYU. Among his previously published books are The Legend of Job in the Middle Ages, (Harvard, 1979), Chaucer and the Bible (Garland, 1988), and Chaucer’s Biblical Poetics (Univ. of Oklahoma, 1998). He has edited two collections of essays: The Challenge of Periodization: Old Paradigms and New Perspectives (Garland, 1996) and Sacred and Secular in Medieval and Early modern Cultures: New Essays (Macmillan-Palgrave, 2006).
"Recommended" --Choice"Erudite and thought-provoking book" --Mary Davy Behrman, Arthuriana