"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Literature of the Crusades

We do not hear quite so much about the Crusades today as we did even two years ago, when their talismanic invocation was an absolutely central part of ISIS rituals and propaganda. Nonetheless, the Crusades remain easily one of the most widely distorted and misunderstood parts of Eastern Christian and Islamic history. A new paperback edition of a recent book sheds more light on these phenomena: Anthony Bale, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the Crusades: Volume 1 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 302pp.

Here is what the publisher tells us about this collection:
How were the Crusades, and the crusaders, narrated, described, and romanticised by the various communities that experienced or remembered them? This Companion provides a critical overview of the diverse and multilingual literary output connected with crusading over the last millennium, from the first writings which sought to understand and report on what was happening, to contemporary medievalism, in which crusading is a potent image of holy war and jihad. The chapters show the enduring legacy of the crusaders' imagery, from the chansons de geste to Walter Scott, from Charlemagne to Orlando Bloom. Whilst the crusaders' hold on Jerusalem was relatively short-lived, the desire for Jerusalem has had a long afterlife in many cultural contexts and media.

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