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Virgins and Scholars
A Fifteenth-Century Compilation of the Lives of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Jerome, and Katherine of Alexandria

C. Waters (ed.)
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XII+494 p., 2 colour ill., 160 x 240 mm, 2008
ISBN: 978-2-503-51452-9
Languages: English, Middle English
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Retail price: EUR 105,00 excl. tax
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This collection of prose vitae of four virgins and scholars - Saints John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Jerome, and Katherine of Alexandria - was almost certainly copied, and the texts very likely composed, at Syon Abbey or Sheen Charterhouse in the mid-fifteenth century. The lives cover a wide range of hagiographic modes, from hagiographic romance to affective, devotional appreciation to doctrinal treatise in narrative form. From the life of Jerome, composed by a monk for his aristocratic spiritual daughter, to the life of Katherine, reputedly translated for Henry V, to those of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, which set their subjects in a recognizably Birgittine context, they show the interaction of men and women, lay and monastic, in the production of devotional literature. The diversity of their approaches and sources, moreover, shows the links between English dynastic politics and continental religious literature and spiritual traditions. As examples of translation practices, of monastic politics, and of religious instruction, these lives provide a window onto the devotional culture and literary worlds of fifteenth-century Europe.

"The edition does not disappoint. A model of erudition and critical acumen, it provides top-notch editions and facing translations of the lives, a thorough scholarly apparatus that is easy to use, an ample bibliography, and an introduction that illuminates the form and content of the texts themselves as well as their cultural and political environments."    (Karen A. Winstead, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology 110/1, January 2011, p. 138)
Interest Classification:
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Christian devotion & forms of religious expression
Hagiographical writings & the cult of saints
Christian Church : religious orders
Women's orders (nunneries, beguinages etc.)
Medieval & Modern (Indo-European) Languages & Literatures
English language & literature
Middle English language & literature
Comparative & cultural studies through literature
Translation & vernacularity
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : local & regional history
British Isles

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