Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Apostolic Hero and Community in Ramon Llull's 'Blanquerna': A Literary Study of a Medieval Utopia

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Apostolic Hero and Community in Ramon Llull's 'Blanquerna': A Literary Study of a Medieval Utopia

Article excerpt

In Ramon Llull's Blanquerna (1283-5), the eponymous hero, an exemplary imitator of Christ, travels the world, preaching by means of exempla the faith and a programme of social and ecclesiastical reform based on the Gospels. He becomes bishop and pope and ends his days a hermit, thus encapsulating all the spiritual ideals of the age: `active and contemplative, scholastic and monastic, lay and clerical' (p. 77). Blanquerna brings together several themes constant in Llull's life and works: he was a preacher, in Arabic and other languages, in his native Majorca; he devoted a number of theoretical treatises to the art of preaching; while his other works make heavy use of exempla.

Chapter 1 of The Apostolic Hero places Blanquerna in the context of the new missions which were given impetus by the movement for church renewal between the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 and the Council of Vienne of 1311-12. Llull's missionary ideas passed through a number of stages, beginning with an optimistic belief in inter-faith dialogue, via the depiction of exemplary figures in Blanquerna and Felix, to his final call for a military crusade alongside the intellectual one. (It is now doubted whether Llull was marty red while preaching to the Muslims at Bougie in Tunisia.) In chapter 2, Blanquerna is identified generically as a novel-sermon, a novel because it depicts personal formation and social interaction (p. 23) and displays `psychological realism and social drama' (p. …

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