Seasons in the Literatures of the Medieval North

Seasons in the Literatures of the Medieval North

Paul S. Langeslag





A fresh examination of how the seasons are depicted in medieval literature.
To the cultures of medieval northwestern Europe, the changing of the seasons was a material and economic reality that strongly informed the labour, travel and ritual calendars. However, while there has been much research into the interplay between society and its physical surroundings as reflected in medieval literature, the seasonal aspect of this dynamic has hitherto been neglected.
This book analyses the narrative and psychological functions of seasonal settings in the literatures of medieval England and Iceland from the eighth to the fourteenth century, from Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Dealing with both the material realities and the figurative functions of the seasonal cycle, it interprets seasonal spaces in myth and literature as conventionalised environments, where society deals with outside threats and powers which manifest themselves in marginal landscapes. Informing its literary investigations with relevant concerns from economic history, patristic doctrine and decision theory, the volume offers a comprehensive new look at the psychology of landscape and season in medieval literature; it also brings out beliefs concerning the seasons and their connections with the supernatural.

Paul S. Langeslag is a lecturer of Medieval English Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany.

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September 2015
258 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843844259
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004130, LIT004250
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

Myth and Ritual
Winter Mindscapes
Winter Institutions
Summer Adventure


A well-written, insightful, and resourceful book, which has much to offer scholars and students working on landscape, environment, and the 'natural' world in various disciplines within medieval studies. REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES

[Makes] one pause for thought and consideration of how seasonality transports across centuries, nationalities, communities, individuals, and literary genres. COMITATUS

Drawing together an impressive number of disciplines, including those associated with timekeeping, psychology, climate history, agricultural history, and military history, Langeslag sketches out the physical and mental contexts that surround medieval literatures' presentation of the seasons. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW