The Formation of the Medieval West: Studies in the Oral Culture of the Barbarians

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Four Courts Press, 1994 - Carolingians - 292 pages
This book is the first extensive study of the oral culture in the early medieval West. Access to this culture is inevitably through the written sources and indeed there is quite substantial information in the sources once these are properly 'decoded'. Latin is the dominant language of the surviving contemporary records but it emerges that this language is highly inadequate to articulate the main features of the early medieval non-Latin societies. It is argued that the written sources in the period are not representative for these societies generally, which in fact had a broad based, effective and adequate oral culture. It is suggested that this situation accounts for the slow emergence of vernacular literature.

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