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The Craft of Thought

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  • 35 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 426 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.785 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: n/a
  • Dewey version: n/a
  • LC Classification: BL627 .C87 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Meditation--History
    • Rhetoric, Medieval
    • Thought and thinking--History
    • Imagery (Psychology)
    • Civilization, medieval--Psychological aspects

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521582322 | ISBN-10: 0521582326)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published November 1998

Replaced by 9780521795418


A companion to Mary Carruthers' earlier study of memory in medieval culture, The Book of Memory, this book, The Craft of Thought, examines medieval monastic meditation as a discipline for making thoughts, and discusses its influence on literature, art, and architecture, deriving examples from a variety of late antique and medieval sources, with excursions into modern architectural memorials. The study emphasizes meditation as an act of literary composition or invention, the techniques of which notably involved both words and making mental "pictures" for thinking and composing.


1. Collective memory and memoria rerum; Part I. An Architecture for Thinking; Part II. Memoria Rerum, Remembering Things: 2. 'Remember heaven': the aesthetics of Mneme; 3. Cognitive images, meditation, and ornament; 4. Dream vision, picture, and 'the mystery of the bed chamber'; 5. 'The place of the tabernacle'.


'… a wide-ranging text … illuminating for scholars of classical and medieval history, art history, and literature, as well as the more obvious disciplines of theology and rhetoric.' Natalie Grinnell, Envoi

'… Carruthers puts forward at a quick pace, a wealth of intuitions and ideas about the function of pictures which are liable to stimulate further research in the fields both of classics and of medieval studies.' Classical World

‘This is a vigorous and learned book.’ David Griffith, Expository Times

'… The Craft of Thought is an important contribution to our understanding of memory, the medieval world, and how our image of the world today both converges and diverges from our past. By showing how medieval monastic meditation influences literature, art, and architecture … [the book] underscores the importance of memory in bringing these disparate disciplines together as a unitary whole. Remarkable and learned … [this] is a book to be read and recollected again and again.' Lee Trepanier, VoegelinView (

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