A History of Medieval Latin Literature

A History of Medieval Latin Literature

A History of Medieval Latin Literature

A History of Medieval Latin Literature

Excerpt

To put in 120 pages the history of a millennium of an extremely rich literature would seem to be a wager. If we have hazarded an attempt, it is because the subject, in spite of a century of erudite research (which has considerably increased during the last thirty years) is still unknown. There is surely no one at present who is ignorant of the importance of an epoch in which modern civilization arose, and everyone knows that Latin (which at the time assured the spiritual unity of Western Europe) was the language of theological treatises, philosophical summas, annals and chronicles, encyclopedias and edifying manuals.

The volumes of the Patrologia byMigne, or the folios of the Monumenta which contain so many of those works, are certainly not of an inviting appearance. Only a specialist would venture into them. Yet, the Imitation of Christ is still read (certainly more than any philosophical treatise of Cicero or Seneca) and the Christian folk still hear and sing the Dies Irae or the Pange Lingua every day. As incomplete or as imperfect as it might be, a short book on the history of these texts which still inspire and which are such strangers to us can be useful.

Among the multitude of works which we will treat (whose mass is infinitely greater than that of all the literature of antiquity) we shall deliberately leave aside all those which for us have become illegible: glosses, commentaries, compila-

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