ABOUT THIS BOOK
From chivalrous knights to damsels in distress, fire-breathing dragons, and high-walled towers, the characteristics and expectations we ascribe to stories of love and romance have their origins in some of the most beautiful and intriguing books of the Middle Ages. Encompassing Arthurian legends, Alexander the Great’s global conquests, sudden reversals of fortune, revenge, or enchantment, images and tales of medieval romance still resonate today. This beautifully illustrated history of romance legends explores the conjunctions of chivalric violence, love, sex, and piety that marked these striking and resonant stories.
Through a discussion of surviving manuscripts, printed books, and visual art, The Romance of the Middle Ages examines the development of romance as a literary genre, its place in medieval culture, and the scribes and readers who copied, owned, and commented on romance books—from magnificent illuminated manuscripts to personal notebooks. It describes the dangerous pull of desire in works by Dante, Chaucer, Malory, and many others, and traces the influence of these stories through their rewriting in Shakespeare, Spenser, Walter Scott, and Mark Twain, along with the medievalist visions of Morris, Rossetti, and Burne-Jones. The Romance of the Middle Ages then brings the story up to date by showing how later writers and artists have responded to medieval romance, including Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling, and the very different knightly casts of Monty Python and Star Wars.
The Romance of the Middle Ages is an engaging analysis of stories that still have the power to capture our imaginations long after ‘happily ever after’.