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Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England


Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England

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    Available in PDF Format | Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England.pdf | English
    Michael Alexander(Author)
The style of the medieval period inhabits the bloodstream of western culture, and returned to dominate post-Enlightenment England. This one-volume history of the Medieval Revival as a whole is the first coherent account of its social, political, religious, architectural and artistic aspects, especially as these are expressed and reflected in literature. Its focus is on the period 1760 to 1971, with an Epilogue on the reverberations of medievalism in the present day. The rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, after its destruction by fire in 1834, re-established Gothic as a national style. But medieval imitation manifests itself wherever one cares to look: in literature (Horace Walpole, Scott, Tennyson, Ruskin); in architecture (on campuses from Glasgow to Sydney to Yale, follies from Strawberry Hill to San Simeon, in churches, banks and railway stations); in the decorative arts (Pugin, William Morris, Eric Gill); religion (the Oxford Movement); politics (Guild Socialism and the trade union movement) and Hollywood (Braveheart, Robin Hood, and The Name of the Rose). In this skilled dissection of the components of this pervasive cultural movement, Michael Alexander rejects the idea that medievalism was confined to the Victorian period, and overturns the suspicion that it is by its nature escapist.

'Professor Alexander marshals his arguments with scholarship and wit. This is an intelligent, thoughtful and well-researched book.' -- Literary Review, March, 2007"[It] has ... beautiful illustrations""Like a good conversation, the book draws together all sorts of stray but related topics" --A.N. Wilson, The Daily Telegraph, August 6, 2007'...a refreshing account of the revival of interest in the culture of the Middle Ages...enlivened by his preference for quoting original sources; I feel inspired to go back to those works.' -- The Catholic Herald, July 13, 2007...a formidable achievement in distil, so much information between the pages of a single -- beautifully illustrated -- book and to offer an original interpretation at the same time. -- Wells Journal, June 14, 2007...a myriad of delicious plums in a richly illustrated pudding. -- The Spectator, May 12, 2007Michael Alexander's study of medievalism is a welcome contribution to [the] renewed and much more intelligent view on the value of Victorian culture. -- The Tablet, June 9, 2007This beautifully produced, generously illustrated book takes a panoramic view of the "recovery" of the Medieval in English literature. --Rosemary Ashton, Times Literary Supplement, July 27, 2007Why should an age of industrial revolution, technological advance and 'progressive' thought have harked back so insistently to an apparently barbaric age? Thoughtful, full of fascinating insights and beautifully illustrated, this book wrestles with one of the great paradoxes of modern creativity. -- The Scotsman, June 2, 2007`This well-written and highly accessible account of the medieval influence in England will certainly transform your thinking' -- Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post, 28 July 2007

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Book details

  • PDF | 352 pages
  • Michael Alexander(Author)
  • Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (13 April 2007)
  • English
  • 7
  • Art, Architecture & Photography
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Review Text

  • By Jonathan-Paul Hooper on 2 June 2013

    This is not, of course, an account of the medieval era in Britain (the title I assume panders to the American market by making England stand for the whole of Britain) but of the way notions of the medieval have affected British writers and artists right up to the present day. It's very broad in its scope and takes in things like gothic and romanticism, chivalry, Arthurian literature, fantasy, and people like Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelites, Tennyson, Yeats, the Oxford Inklings etc. I found it very entertaining. However, while the author obviously has a good grasp of the bigger picture, I am not sure how much he gets the details right, if his knowledge of Tolkien is anything to go by. On page 36 he claims that Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings for his children. In fact, he wrote it as a sequel to The Hobbit, and because of the promptings of publisher and public for more stories on hobbits (his children were grown up in any case, with the youngest already a teenager when he first started thinking about a possible plot). On page 249 he writes that Middle-earth is 'populated by men, boys and ladies'. I don't know about you, but I didn't spot many boys in Middle-earth, unless of course Alexander means boys dressed up as hobbits. On page 151 he claims that orcs are the evil spirits of the dead - he seems to have got them mixed up with Ringwraiths. This will probably sound horribly pedantic, and make me come across as some kind of Tolkien anorak (which I am not), but if a writer on medievalism can get 3 facts wrong about the twentieth century's most popular and influential medievalist in what is, collectively, about 2 pages worth of material, it does not inspire faith in the rest. Still, as an entertaining read, and a broad overview of the contours of the various medieval revivals, this can be recommended.

  • By Mr. M. W. Wabe on 24 January 2010

    To paraphrase the TV advert, "It does what it says on the cover". It is an interesting account of medieval times in England.

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