Pilgrimage in Medieval English Literature, 700-1500

November 2001
296 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859916233
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004120

Pilgrimage in Medieval English Literature, 700-1500

Dee Dyas

The meaning of pilgrimage and its development over 800 years, reflected in contemporary writings.
Pilgrims are so frequently encountered in the pages of Middle English literature that it is easy to take their presence, and their significance, for granted. The pilgrimage motif is all too frequently simply accepted as a 'given' of medieval spirituality, its presence noted but its meaning seldom analysed. This study therefore asks several fundamental but hitherto largely ignored questions. What exactly did pilgrimage mean to medieval writers? How well did various understandings of pilgrimage combine within medieval spirituality? Who were the true pilgrims - those who travelled to saints' shrines, those who withdrew into the cloister or the anchorite's cell, or those who simply walked the path of daily obedience?
In answering these questions, this wide-ranging survey of the origins and development of the pilgrim motif examines the development of Christian pilgrimage through the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the influences of classical pagan religion and the impulses of popular devotion. It then traces the ways in which the resulting multiple meanings of pilgrimage were incorporated into medieval spirituality and literature, offering fresh perspectives on Old English poetry and prose together with Middle English texts such a the Canterbury Tales, Piers Plowman, Pearl and the Book of Margery Kempe. Dr DEE DYAS is director of the Society for the Study of Medieval Christianity and Culture.


An illuminating perspective. MYSTICS QUARTERLY Special credit for including Old English texts... a useful guide, a rich background study. SPECULUM A brilliant and richly-woven tapestry, full of insight and fresh ideas....It is not possible to do justice to the wide range and complexity of this exciting book in a brief review. JNL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

Author Bio

Dee Dyas is Director of the Society for the Study of Medieval Christianity and Culture, Centre of Medieval Studies, University of York, UK.

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