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Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance (review)

Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance (review) corinne saunders. Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010. Pp. viii 304. In Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance, Corinne Saunders takes on the herculean task of sifting through the complex history of Western attitudes toward magic in order to establish their influence on one of the most significant literary genres of the Middle Ages, the romance. Saunders challenges scholars trained to treat the magical acts, objects, and creatures of romance in narratological or symbolic terms to recognize that this supernatural discourse emerges from an alterior cultural reality imbued with a ``strong sense of the numinous'' (2­3), in which magic was a material practice. ``It is not surprising,'' Saunders points out, ``that, in a world where faith in God and the devil, and in a spirit world between, was ready and natural, the possibility of magic should also have seemed ready and natural'' (4). Thus, working within the critical tradition that acknowledges both romance's nostalgic functions and its mimetic aspects, Saunders convincingly argues for an understanding of the romance as a ``mixed mode'' in which magic functions not only as a feature of romance's wish-fulfilling idealism but also as a manifestation http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft University of Pennsylvania Press

Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance (review)

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft , Volume 7 (2) – Nov 10, 2012

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
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The University of Pennsylvania Press
ISSN
1940-5111
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Abstract

corinne saunders. Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010. Pp. viii 304. In Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance, Corinne Saunders takes on the herculean task of sifting through the complex history of Western attitudes toward magic in order to establish their influence on one of the most significant literary genres of the Middle Ages, the romance. Saunders challenges scholars trained to treat the magical acts, objects, and creatures of romance in narratological or symbolic terms to recognize that this supernatural discourse emerges from an alterior cultural reality imbued with a ``strong sense of the numinous'' (2­3), in which magic was a material practice. ``It is not surprising,'' Saunders points out, ``that, in a world where faith in God and the devil, and in a spirit world between, was ready and natural, the possibility of magic should also have seemed ready and natural'' (4). Thus, working within the critical tradition that acknowledges both romance's nostalgic functions and its mimetic aspects, Saunders convincingly argues for an understanding of the romance as a ``mixed mode'' in which magic functions not only as a feature of romance's wish-fulfilling idealism but also as a manifestation

Journal

Magic, Ritual, and WitchcraftUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Nov 10, 2012

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