Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Legend of St Agnes in Medieval Castilian Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Legend of St Agnes in Medieval Castilian Literature

Article excerpt

Andrew M. Beresford, The Legend of St Agnes in Medieval Castillan Literature, Papers of the Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar 59 (London: Department of Hispanic Studies, Queen Mary, University of London, 2007). 103 pp. ISBN 0-902238-43-4. No price given.

This monograph provides an introduction to the legend of the Roman childmartyr St Agnes, one of the most evocative in the hagiographie canon. Chapter ? provides a useful and absorbing account of the origin and dissemination of the cult of Agnes in early Latin tradition from Ambrose to Jacobus de Voragine. Chapter 2 contains an analysis of the dissemination of the legend in Spain, focusing on two prose versions of the saint's life, the Istoria de la vida de santa Ynés and the Vida e passion de santa Ygnés. Chapter 3 offers a 'gendered interpretation' of the legend of St Agnes as she is presented in the Istoria and the Vida e passion. Chapter 4 appends critical editions of the versions (based on the Escorial texts of h-in-22 and h-1-14, respectively) along with variant readings drawn from four other extant manuscript recensions.

Of the great many collections of saints' lives to have circulated in Spain during the Middle Ages only one complete collection has been edited and a handful of published editions of female saints' lives are available elsewhere. Andrew M. Beresford's monograph, therefore, which contains critical editions of previously unedited texts, together with an exhaustive list of variant readings, makes an extremely valuable contribution to an area that remains largely unexplored. A brief series of explanatory notes is helpful, particularly for the non-specialist. Beresford also offers a brief survey of other references to Agnes in the medieval canon, alluding to an impressive range of works, such as Clemente Sánchez de Vercial's Libro de los exenplos por a. …

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