Restoring Creation: The Natural World in the Anglo-Saxon Saints' Lives of Cuthbert and Guthlac

July 2019
224 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Nature and Environment in the Middle Ages
ISBN: 9781843845300
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT011000, REL067000

Restoring Creation: The Natural World in the Anglo-Saxon Saints' Lives of Cuthbert and Guthlac

Britton Elliott Brooks

An investigation into two important Saints Lives provides a window into the Anglo-Saxon perception of the non-human world.
The question of the relationship between humanity and the non-human world may seem a modern phenomenon; but in fact, even in the early medieval period people actively reflected on their own engagement with the non-human world, with such reflections profoundly shaping their literature. This book reveals how the Anglo-Saxons themselves conceptualised the relationship, using the Saints Lives of Cuthbert and Guthlac as a prism. Each saint is fundamentally linked to a specific and recognisable location in the English landscape: Lindisfarne and Farne for Cuthbert, and the East Anglian fens and the island of Crowland for Guthlac. These landscapes of the mind were defined by the theological and philosophical perspectives of their authors and audiences. The world in all its wonder was Creation, shaped by God. When humanity fell in Eden, its relationship to this world was transformed: cold now bites, fire burns, and wolves attack. In these Lives, however, saints, the holy epitome of humanity, are shown to restore the human relationship with Creation, as in the sea-otters warming Cuthbert's frozen feet, or birds and fish gathering to Guthlac like sheep to their shepherd.

BRITTON ELLIOTT BROOKS is Project Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo, Centre for Global Communication Strategies.

Table of Contents

Monastic Obedience and Prelapsarian Cosmography: The Anonymous Vita Sancti Cuthberti
Ruminative Poetry and the Divine Office: Bede's Metrical Vita Sancti Cuthberti
Bede's Exegesis and Developmental Sanctity: The Prose Vita Sancti Cuthberti
Enargaeic Landscapes and Spiritual Progression: Felix's Vita Sancti Guthlaci
Landscape Lexis and Creation Restored: The Old English Prose Life of Guthlac and Guthlac A
Conclusion: Afterlives of Cuthbert and Guthlac

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