Friday, December 31, 2010

Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance -- New From D. S. Brewer

Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance 
Corinne Saunders

First Published: 15 Apr 2010
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843842217
Pages: 312
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer
Series: Studies in Medieval Romance
Subject: Medieval Literature

The world of medieval romance is one in which magic and the supernatural are constantly present: in otherwordly encounters, in the strange adventures experienced by questing knights, in the experience of the uncanny, and in marvellous objects - rings, potions, amulets, and the celebrated green girdle in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This study looks at a wide range of medieval English romance texts, including the works of Chaucer and Malory, from a broad cultural perspective, to show that while they employ magic in order to create exotic, escapist worlds, they are also grounded in a sense of possibility, and reflect a complex web of inherited and current ideas. The book opens with a survey of classical and biblical precedents, and of medieval attitudes to magic; subsequent chapters explore the ways that romances both reflect contemporary attitudes and ideas, and imaginatively transform them. In particular, the author explores the distinction between the `white magic' of healing and protection, and the more dangerous arts of `nigromancy', black magic. Also addressed is the wider supernatural, including the ways that ideas associated with human magic can be intensified and developed in depictions of otherworldly practitioners of magic. The ambiguous figures of the enchantress and the shapeshifter are a special focus, and the faery is contrasted with the Christian supernatural - miracles, ghosts, spirits, demons and incubi.

1 Introduction
2 Classical and Biblical Precedents
3 The Middle Ages: Prohibitions, Folk Practices and Learned Magic
4 White Magic: Natural Arts and Marvellous Technology
5 Black Magic: The Practice of 'Nigromancy'
6 Otherworld Enchantments and Faery Realms
7 Christian Marvel and Demonic Intervention
8 Malory's Morte Darthur
9 Epilogue: Towards the Renaissance
10 Bibliography

Professor CORINNE SAUNDERS Saunders teaches in the Department of English, University of Durham.

Merlin Season 3

The SyFy Channel premieres Season 3 of BBC1's Merlin next week.