Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La 'Navigatio Sancti Brendani' E la Sua Fortuna Nella Cultura Romanza Dell'età Di Mezzo

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La 'Navigatio Sancti Brendani' E la Sua Fortuna Nella Cultura Romanza Dell'età Di Mezzo

Article excerpt

Renata Anna Bartoli, La 'Navigatio Sancti Brendani' e la sua fortuna nella cultura romanza dell'età di mezzo, Biblioteca della Ricerca, Medio Evo di Francia 4 (Fasano, Brindisi: Schena, 1993). 436 pp.; 1 plate. ISBN 88-7514-650-0. L. 42,000.

Renata Anna Bartoli opens this study with an 88-page account of the Celtic background from which the Navigatio grew. First she deals at length with the idiosyncrasies of the relatively independent early Hibernian Church. Then she considers those aspects of pre-Christian religion in Ireland that bear on the Navigatio, particularly aspects of Celtic 'otherworld' mythology, making the point that many elements of pagan thought survived Christianization, and were indeed deliberately seized on by missionaries where they could help to bridge the gap between the old and the new religions. In passing, we also learn a little about Celtic story-telling traditions.

Armed with this information, the author undertakes the main part of her study, a 15 2-page analysis of the Navigatio itself at both narrative and ideological levels. It is perhaps this examination of ideology that represents the chief value of the study. Concentrating heavily on symbolism, it shows how the Navigatio is shot through with more-or-less consciously Celtic elements, and it reveals a deliberate attempt to emphasize the links between pagan and Christian ideologies as then understood in Ireland. This approach brings to light layers of symbolic significance which are far from self-evident, and in the process demonstrates how much more logical and internally consistent is the Navigatio than most of its epigones, which fail to understand this symbolism, misrepresenting it and reducing it to a merely decorative element. …

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