Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The World Grown Old in Later Medieval Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The World Grown Old in Later Medieval Literature

Article excerpt

James M. Dean, The World Grown Old in Later Medieval Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: The Medieval Academy of America, 1997). xi + 379 PP. ISBN o915651-04-1. $50.00.

While building on the work of earlier scholars, James Dean endeavours to take this subject a stage further. Firstly, he establishes how complex and multifaceted the concept of the 'age' of the world actually is. Secondly, in examining the Patristic sources of the concept, he emphasizes not so much their reuse in the later Middle Ages as their transformation.

Dean's introductory exploration of subtopics is particularly useful. Although not arguing for a linear evolution in the concepts involved, his chronological discussion of the Patristic and later medieval sources brings clarity and order to the many strands of this subject.

The bulk of the book is divided into chapters organized around single works or authors - Dante, Le Roman de la Rose, Chaucer, Langland, Gower. One might expect, therefore, that the book would stand or fall on whether it offers sufficiently cogent or interesting rereadings of these individual works. That is not quite what we get, however. Rather, the works act as useful hooks on which to hang the ongoing discussion of the varied substrands of the concept. …

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