Bestiary
Title Details

206 Pages

21.6 x 13.8 cm

136 colour. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press

Bestiary

Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764

by Richard Barber

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  • Author
  • Reviews
A delightful translation of one of the finest, and most beautiful, examples of a medieval Bestiary.
Bestiaries are a particularly characteristic product of medieval England, and give a unique insight into the medieval mind. Richly illuminated and lavishly produced, they were luxury objects for noble families. Their three-fold purpose was to provide a natural history of birds, beasts and fishes, to draw moral examples from animal behaviour (the industrious bee, the stubborn ass), and to reveal a mystical meaning - the phoenix, for instance, as a symbol ofChrist's resurrection.
This Bestiary, MS Bodley 764, was produced around the middle of the thirteenth century and is of singular beauty and interest. The lively illustrations have the freedom and naturalistic quality ofthe later Gothic style, and make dazzling use of colour. This book reproduces the 136 illuminations to the same size and in the same place as the original manuscript, fitting the text around them. Richard Barber's translation from the original Latin is a delight to read, capturing both the serious intent of the manuscript and its charm.

RICHARD BARBER has written many books on the history of and life in the middle ages, from his Somerset MaughamAward-winning The Knight and Chivalry, by way of biographies of Henry II and the Black Prince, to an anthology of Arthurian literature from England, France and Germany, Arthurian Legends, and an account of the historical Arthur, King Arthur: Hero and Legend.

RICHARD BARBER has had a huge influence on the study of medieval history and literature, as both a writer and a publisher. His first book on the Arthurian legend appeared in 1961, and his major works include The Knight and Chivalry (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971), Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe and The Holy Grail: the History of a Legend which was widely praised and was translated into six languages.

"The translation is pellucid, and the colourful late-gothic illustrations really delightful. Epic begets epic: stupendous and thought-provoking." FORTEAN TIMES
"An invaluable resource for readers and writers who aspire to understand how mediaeval men and women viewed the natural world, both actual and fantastical." HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW
"Excellent translation from the Latin original makes for fascinating reading about beasts, real and imaginary, of the medieval world. The most delightful picture-book about animals you'll ever see." EVENING STANDARD
"Hugely enjoyable, this English version of a 13th-century manuscript in the Bodleian Library offers every kind of beast... The illustrations are gorgeous and well reproduced." INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

Paperback

9780851157535

January 1992

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Ebook (EPDF)

9780585232607

October 2019

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Title Details

206 Pages

2.16 x 1.38 cm

136 colour. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press