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Medieval Reading


  • 2 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 256 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.38 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521604529 | ISBN-10: 0521604524)

This book argues for a radically new approach to the history of reading and literacy in the Middle Ages. It investigates the use of complex literary texts as the basis of elementary instruction in the Latin language and, using medieval teachers' notes (glosses) on a classical text (Horace's Satires) and a selection of other unpublished manuscript materials, it demonstrates that the reading of classical literature was profoundly shaped by the demands of acquiring Latin literacy through the arts of grammar and rhetoric. The resolutely literal readings of Latin texts found in these educational and institutional contexts call for a reassessment of the relationship of Latin and vernacular discourses in medieval culture, and of some central notions in medieval hermeneutics, notably allegory and authorial intention.

• Contributes to the increasingly important field of the history of reading, using previously unpublished manuscript material to look at literacy afresh • Will prompt a reassessment of the relationship of Latin and vernacular languages in the middle ages • Combines linguistic and literary approaches to the theory and practice of reading


1. Introduction; Part I. Contents for reading: 2. Learning to read: the classics and the curriculum; 3. Reading and the trivium arts; Part II. Reading Practice: 4. Origins and mythologies: the invention of language and meaning; 5. Reading word by word (1): the role of the vernacular; 6. Reading word by word (2): grammatical and rhetorical approaches; 7. From words to the phrase: the problem of syntax; 8. Government: the theory and practice of a grammatical concept; 9. Rival orders of syntax: vernacular, natural and artificial; 10. From the phrase to the text: grammatical and rhetorical approaches again; 11. Naked intention: satire and a new kind of literal reading; 12. Literacy: a new model for the classical text in the middle ages?; Bibliography.


' … a thought-provoking and erudite work to be warmly welcomed and thoroughly recommended'. The Review of English Studies

'This is an original, stimulating book which will be useful to all scholars working on reading and literacy in the Middle Ages.' Peritia

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