The politics of Middle English parables

Fiction, theology, and social practice

by Mary Raschko, David Matthews, Anke Bernau

Description
The politics of Middle English parables examines the dynamic intersection of fiction, theology and social practice in late-medieval England. Parables occupy a prominent place in Middle English literature, appearing in dream visions and story collections as well as in lives of Christ and devotional treatises. While most scholarship approaches the translated stories as stable vehicles of Christian teaching, this book highlights the many variations and points of conflict across Middle English renditions of the same story. In parables related to labour, social inequality, charity and penance, the book locates a creative theological discourse through which writers attempted to re-construct Christian belief and practice. Analysis of these diverse retellings reveals not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how Middle English parables inscribe the ideologies, power structures and cultural debates of late-medieval Christianity.
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Endorsements

The politics of Middle English parables argues that these stories' provocative poetics generated varied translations. While many medieval narratives tell audiences how to live, parables stand apart from other instructional stories in their tendency to render the familiar unfamiliar: rife with ambiguity, paradox, and reversals of expectation, gospel parables confuse and frustrate audiences as much as they instruct. These capatious and riddling stories both invited audience interpretation and inspired the construction of new, divergent stories from writers attempting to puzzle out their implications. The book shows how late medieval translators negotiated scriptural portrayals of everyday life relevant to labor laws, social inequality, charity, and penance. As the chapters explore translations in different literary settings, they reveal not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how these Middle English stories convey the ideologies, power structures, and cultural debates of late-medieval Christianity. For scholars and students of medieval literature, history, and religion, the book provides a new paradigm for approaching familiar biblical stories.

Reviews

The politics of Middle English parables argues that these stories' provocative poetics generated varied translations. While many medieval narratives tell audiences how to live, parables stand apart from other instructional stories in their tendency to render the familiar unfamiliar: rife with ambiguity, paradox, and reversals of expectation, gospel parables confuse and frustrate audiences as much as they instruct. These capatious and riddling stories both invited audience interpretation and inspired the construction of new, divergent stories from writers attempting to puzzle out their implications. The book shows how late medieval translators negotiated scriptural portrayals of everyday life relevant to labor laws, social inequality, charity, and penance. As the chapters explore translations in different literary settings, they reveal not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how these Middle English stories convey the ideologies, power structures, and cultural debates of late-medieval Christianity. For scholars and students of medieval literature, history, and religion, the book provides a new paradigm for approaching familiar biblical stories.

Author Biography

Dr Anke Bernau is Lecturer in Medieval Literature and Culture at the University of Manchester

Bibliographic Information
  • Pub date: October 2018
  • 9781526131195 / 1526131196
  • United Kingdom
  • ePub
  • Manchester University Press
  • Readership: General/trade
  • Publish State: Published
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture
  • Reference Code: 10959