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Medieval Bestiaries

Medieval Bestiaries
Text, Image, Ideology

Part of Res Monographs in Anthropology and Aesthetics

  • Date Published: October 1995
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print April 1997
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521470261


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About the Authors
  • This study integrates the bestiary into the social history of art through an examination of twenty-eight manuscripts produced in England during the twelfth, thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The analysis of the reception of the bestiary by different types of readers - religious and lay, male and female - links selected bestiary entries to specific social political, economic and theological concerns of significance at the time that the manuscripts were produced and read; special attention is devoted to bestiary characterisations of women and Jews. The first comprehensive analysis of text and images that takes both an iconographical and semiotic approach to the imagery, this study also takes into account the aesthetic dimension of these works. It challenges, moreover, the pervasive thesis that the bestiaries were collections of standard texts and images intended for religious contemplation. By tracing their changing functions across the centuries and evaluating them in the broader context of medieval intellectual history, bestiaries are shown to be a dynamic genre.

    • Comparative analysis of over 28 manuscripts
    • Lavishly illustrated (176 halftones, many published here for the first time)
    • A new theoretical approach to the analysis of medieval manuscripts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is a learned book which is full of fascinating information and certainly moves the study of the Bestiary imagery forward in notable ways.' Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521470261
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 261 x 212 x 29 mm
    • weight: 1.371kg
    • contains: 176 b/w illus.
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print April 1997
  • Table of Contents

    1. The manuscripts
    2. On method
    3. In one ear: the weasel
    4. The good friend: the stag
    5. The model citizen: the bee
    6. The heretic: the fox
    7. Born again: the Phoenix
    8. Clean living: the beaver
    9. The loving child: the Hoopoe
    10. The harlot: the siren
    11. Burning love: the fire rocks
    12. The ideal spouse: the elephant
    13. The idolatrous Jew: the hyena
    14. The true panther
    15. Changing functions

  • Author

    Debra Hassig

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