Medieval assumptions about the nature of the representation involved in literary and historical narratives were widely different from our own. Writers and readers worked with a complex understanding of the relations between truth and convention, in which accounts of presumed fact could be expanded, embellished, or translated in a variety of accepted ways. Ruth Morse's challenging and wide-ranging book explores how these assumptions operated in a broad range of genres, including romance, history, and biography. The book recovers the rhetorical principles which governed the creation and interpretation of such writings, and demonstrates their educational centrality in medieval Europe. Drawing upon this background, Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages examines in detail the diverse ways in which ostensibly 'historical' narratives established their legitimacy, notably through their invocation of earlier textual authorities or 'sources'. In analysing these complex processes of narrative reconstruction, this lucid and accessible book itself reconstructs medieval habits of reading and writing, and raises far-reaching questions about language and representation.
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(229mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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