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Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society (edition 1999)
by Jean-Claude Schmitt, Teresa Lavender Fagan (Translator)
Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society by Jean-Claude Schmitt
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226738884, Paperback)
Through this vivid study, Jean-Claude Schmitt examines medieval religious culture and the significance of the widespread belief in ghosts, revealing the ways in which the dead and the living related to each other during the middle ages. Schmitt also discusses Augustine's influence on medieval authors; the link between dreams and autobiographical narratives; and monastic visions and folklore. Including numerous color reproductions of ghosts and ghostly trappings, this book presents a unique and intriguing look at medieval culture.
"Valuable and highly readable. . . . [Ghosts in the Middle Ages] will be of interest to many students of medieval thought and culture, but especially to those seeking a general overview of this particularly conspicuous aspect of the medieval remembrance of the dead."—Hans Peter Broedel, Medieval Review
"A fascinating study of the growing prevalence of ghost imagery in ecclesiastical and popular writing from the fifth to the fifteenth century."—Choice
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:18 -0400)
Using many different medieval texts, Schmitt examines medieval religious culture and the significance of the widespread belief in ghosts, asking who returned, to whom, from where, in what form, and why. Through this vivid study, we can see the ways in which the dead and the living related to each other. Schmitt focuses on everyday ghosts - recently departed ordinary people who were a part of the complex social world of the living. Schmitt argues that beliefs and the imaginary depend above all on the structures and functioning of society and culture, and he shows how the Christian culture of the Middle Ages enlarged the notion of ghosts and created many opportunities for the dead to appear. Schmitt also points out that the church happily proliferated ghost stories as a way to promote the liturgy of the dead, to develop pious sentiments among parishioners, and to solicit alms on behalf of a relative or friend's salvation.
(summary from another edition)
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