Mirror in Parchment: The Luttrell Psalter and the Making of Medieval England / Edition 1997

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Overview

What is the status of visual evidence in history? Can we actually see the past through images? Where are the traces of previous lives deposited? Michael Camille addresses these important questions in Mirror in Parchment, a lively, searching study of one medieval manuscript, its patron, producers, and historical progeny.

The richly illuminated Luttrell Psalter was created for the English nobleman Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276-1345). Inexpensive mechanical illustration has since disseminated the book's images to a much wider audience; hence the Psalter's representations of manorial life have come to profoundly shape our modern idea of what medieval English people, high and low, looked like at work and at play. Alongside such supposedly truthful representations, the Psalter presents myriad images of fantastic monsters and beasts. These patently false images have largely been disparaged or ignored by modern historians and art historians alike, for they challenge the credibility of those pictures in the Luttrell Psalter that we wish to see as real.

In the conviction that medieval images were not generally intended to reflect daily life but rather to shape a new reality, Michael Camille analyzes the Psalter's famous pictures as representations of the world, imagined and real, of its original patron. Addressed are late medieval chivalric ideals, physical sites of power, and the boundaries of Sir Geoffrey's imagined community, wherein agricultural laborers and fabulous monsters play a similar ideological role. The Luttrell Psalter thus emerges as a complex social document of the world as its patron hoped and feared it might be.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In order to investigate the status of visual evidence in history, Camille (art history, U. of Chicago) focuses on a manuscript created for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276-1345). He finds that the illustrations, now widely disseminated, are representations of the real and imaged world of its original patron, and argues that they were not intended to reflect daily life but to shape a new reality. Some of the reproductions are in color. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226092409
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Series: Heritage of Sociology Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1997
  • Pages: 410
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Preface Introduction: The Manuscript as Mirror
1: The Lord's Arms: Knighthood, War and Play
2: The Lord's Hall: Feasting, Family and Fashion
3: The Lord's Church: Monument, Sermon and Memory
4: The Lord's Lands: Men, Women and Machines
5: The Lord's Folk: Masks, Mummers and Monsters
6: The Lord's Enemies: Saracens, Scotsmen and the Biped Beast
7: The Lord's Illuminators: Six Hands and a Face References List of Illustrations Index

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