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Medieval Folklore


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About the Author

Carl Lindahl, author of books and articles on Chaucer, folk narrative, and festive custom, and John McNamara, who has produced many studies of the heroic and monastic lore of medieval England, are Professors of English at the University of Houston. John Lindow, Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, has published numerous books and articles on Norse myth, legend, and literature.


Originally published in two volumes (LJ 9/15/00), this rich compendium has been streamlined to create the first one-volume companion to medieval folklore. Gathered here is a significant body of information currently available only in widely scattered sources. The 261 alphabetically arranged entries span a broad spectrum of topics, embracing major themes in folk culture and the legends and sagas of classic European literature both oral and written dating from 500 to 1500 C.E. (Only very modest attention is paid to materials from Africa, East Asia, and South Asia.) Each essay first defines the topic and then carefully addresses context, historical development, uses, motifs, and notable research. Major entries cover death, dance, music, Christmas, lesbians, funeral rituals, taverns, spirits, food, and animals in literatures from Baltic to Welsh to Jewish. Penned by 114 academic scholars, both European and American, the narratives are often ponderous and leaden, yet it must be acknowledged that within academic limits the writing is well crafted, offering insights and dimension found nowhere else. While not exhaustive, this is an extensive and fully researched work that scholars will find valuable. Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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