Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages

Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages

Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages

Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages

Excerpt

Patronage of letters, existing as a well-defined system, is not nationally restricted or dependent upon the spirit of any age but is the result rather of a few fairly obvious and universal social and economic conditions. Its most complete development is usually found within a highly aristocratic form of society, for obviously, inequalities of wealth and position only can bring about an exercise of individual largess or protection, and further, even in ancient times it is

To growing wealth, the dedicator flies.

Literature in a wide sense had been pursued for ages before such a social condition was reached and before any individual ownership of literary property had become defined. There had been first of all a communal period of cooperative effort in which individual ownership gradually developed as the literary individual emerged from the throng. When literature came to be reckoned as a profession, however, it had to be adjusted to the existing economic system. In a homogeneous community, where power and wealth are widely or almost equally distributed, and where literary culture finally enforces recognition, means of rewarding genius come into use which are of a kind suitable to reach a large class of men. So among Semitic peoples from whom the oldest monuments remain and among whom individual authorship was unknown, literature was a growing thing, alive only so long as it grew. It was the product, not of individuals, but of schools of thought or of scribes of a particular temple, and it passed therefore with the thought which had produced it. Such production is purely communal, but parallel with group authorship there is the beginning of a more marked individual authorship, for books are also written at the order of kings and commanders, though with this qualification to be remembered, that literature is as yet a craft and not an art. Though there . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.