Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation

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Cornell University Press, 1996 - Social Science - 224 pages
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Medieval Death is an absorbing study of the social, theological, and cultural issues involved in death and dying in Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the early sixteenth century.
Drawing on both archaeological and art historical sources, Paul Binski examines pagan and Christian attitudes towards the dead, the aesthetics of death and the body, burial ritual and mortuary practice. The evidence is accumulated from a wide variety of medieval thinkers and images, including the macabre illustrations of the Dance of Death and other popular themes in art and literature, which reflect the medieval obsession with notions of humility, penitence, and the dangers of bodily corruption.
The author discusses the impact of the Black Death on late medieval art and examines the development of the medieval tomb, showing the changing attitudes towards the commemoration of the dead between late antiquity and the late Middle Ages. In the final chapter the progress of the soul after death is studied through the powerful descriptions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory in Dante and other writers and through portrayals of the Last Judgment and the Apocalypse in sculpture and large-scale painting.
 

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User Review  - Meggo - LibraryThing

Lavishly illustrated and well researched, this book is nonetheless very dry to the point of being almost an academic work. This book was interesting, but it would likely be more interesting to a scholar of the medieval period. Read full review

Contents

Illustration Credits page
7
Ways of Dying and Rituals of Death
29
Death and Representation
70
reproduced by courtesy of the Director and University Librarian 31 MS
114
The Macabre 12 3
123
Colour Plates between pages 128 and
129
Death and the Afterlife
164
Bibliography
215
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About the author (1996)

Paul Binski now lectures in the Department of History of Art at Cambridge University.

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