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Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and…
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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)

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831216,952 (3.83)None
Member:M.Bahlam
Title:Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society
Authors:Jean-Claude Schmitt
Other authors:Teresa Lavender Fagan (Translator)
Info:University Of Chicago Press (1999), Paperback, 298 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:ghosts, hauntings, medieval history, history

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Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society by Jean-Claude Schmitt

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Right up front I'll point out that this is a book of social history, not ghost stories. Schmitt is interested in what ghost stories tell us about developments in institutions and society in the Middle Ages. Who tells the stories, to what audience, and what aspects of the encounters are deemed important are the focus here. Schmitt is not a skeptic about the existence of ghosts. Skeptic implies a degree of uncertainty, and our author wants to be absolutely sure his readers understand that he knows that ghosts are imaginary, and that the places they are said to come from or go to, be that Hell, Purgatory, or Heaven, are equally imaginary (and this is fine with me, but he goes to wearying lengths to be sure no one misses this point). What he does believe in, though, is the value of what ghost stories can tell us about developments in the Church and its teachings, and in various types of social relationships, and his exploration of this topic, if often repetitive and excessively academic in style, is fairly interesting. Three and a half stars. ( )
  meandmybooks | Dec 9, 2016 |
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Fagan, Teresa LavenderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Pendant la vie, combien de gens on rencontreOn leurparle, on rit un peu, on vide avec eux un bock de bière, on chante. Mais une fois l'homme couché sous une croix, fini, il n'existe plus. Il est couché et il se tait Il se tait. Et si on entend quelqu'un répondre, ça ne vient pas du fond de la tombe, c'est seulement qu'on rêve. Quelqu'un vient parfois nous causer. Ou se promener ici ou là. Ou bien il reste assis. Comme s'il n'était pas mort. Ou il prend la charrette, commence même un travail ou un autre. Tout à fait comme un vivant Comme un vrai vivant, pas comme un défunt Pourquoi, on n'en sait rien, mais un mort, dans un rêve, on ne le voit jamais dans sa tombe, ni même dans le cercueil où il est couché pendant l'office des morts. Dans les rêves, les morts marchent, sont assis à l'avant d'un tombereau, vous font des signes de la main. Tout à fait comme de vrais vivants. Peut-être est-ce pour cela que le Seigneur a donné le rêve à l'homme, pour qu'il voie, comme s'ils étaient vraiment vivants, ceux qui ne sont plus, mais qu'il a tellement envie de revoir un peu.

Youozas Baltouchis,
La Saga de Youza (Vilnius, 1979),
traduit du lituanien en français
par D. Yoccoz-Neugnot,
Paris, Alinéa, 1990, pp. 303-304.
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pour Jacques Le Goff
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Introduction

Les morts n'ont pas d'autre existence que celle que les vivants imaginent pour eux. Différemment selon leur culture, leurs croyances, leur époque, les hommes attribuent aux morts une vie dans l'au-delà, dépeignent les lieux de leur séjour et se figurent ainsi le sort qu'ils espèrent ou redoutent pour eux-mêmes. À ce titre, l'imaginaire de la mort et du devenir des morts dans l'au-delà constitue universellement une part essentielle des croyances religieuses des sociétés. [...]
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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.… (more)

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