Reading the Middle Ages: An Introduction to Medieval Literature / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 90%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $61.09   
  • Used (7) from $1.99   


Medieval literature is separated from us by so many centuries that it may seem completely foreign, both in its concerns and its techniques. However, this literature has much to say to 21st century readers and Steinberg's book demonstrates its continuing relevance and appeal.

This introduction to medieval literature provides some of the cultural context that readers need to know in order to understand the literature, such as the religious orientation of the people, often deep and sincere but sometimes treated casually or subjected to intense scrutiny. The first chapter provides a brief explanation of medieval religious thought, cosmology and intellectual history. The remaining chapters provide introductions to a number of individual works ranging from Beowulf to the works of Chaucer. Avoiding the tendency to regard the Middle Ages as an era dominated by Christian men, these discussions include works by women writers and Jewish writers and a chapter on the medieval Japanese masterpiece The Tale of Genji.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
clear writing...highly accessible...a solid purchase
Medieval Academy of America
Library Journal
Steinberg (biblical and medieval literatures, SUNY at Fredonia) presents a nonscholarly examination of major classics of world literature written between 500 and 1500 C.E., focusing primarily on European classics (Beowulf, The Lais of Marie de France, The Romance of the Rose, The Pearl, The Divine Comedy, and Canterbury Tales) but also including Jewish literature, Icelandic sagas, and the Japanese masterpiece The Tale of Genji. Arguing that these classics are not only highly enjoyable to read but offer key themes still relevant in the 21st century, Steinberg explores key motifs of each work and applies them to modern times. For example, the conflict between the ideal (divine love, the City of God) and the reality of not being able to reach high expectations is as prevalent in contemporary literature as it was in the Middle Ages. The brief bibliography and lack of scholarly apparatus, as well as Steinberg's use of jokes and his clear writing, make this study highly accessible to students. Although the book's price is steep for a paperbound volume of under 200 pages, it is still a solid purchase for undergraduate and larger public libraries.-Morris Hounion, New York City Coll. of Technology Lib., Brooklyn Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786416486
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodore L. Steinberg is a professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in biblical, medieval and Renaissance literatures. He has published books on the Yiddish writer Mendele Mocher Seforim and on the 14th century poem Piers Plowman. Steinberg has been awarded the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching as well as the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He lives in Fredonia.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

I Beowulf
II Chretien de Troyes
III The Lais of Marie de France
IV The Romance of The Rose
V The Tale of Genji
VI Jewish Literature
VII Sagas
VIII Dante
IX Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
X Chaucer
Epilogue (But Not a Retraction): From the Author to the Reader
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)