Now through a Glass Darkly
Specular Images of Being and Knowing from Virgil to Chaucer
Nolan explores the way Roman and medieval authors used the mirror as both instrument and metaphor
In this series of interrelated essays, treating Ovil, Virgil, St. Augustine, Henrich von Morungen, Chretien de Troyes, Dante, Langland, and Chaucer, the author explores the ways in which medieval authors and their Roman predecessors used the image of the mirror both as instrument and metaphor. The essays individually provide fresh insights into the texts and issues discussed and, taken together, provide new perspectives on medieval culture and the ways it anticipated problems that plague our own.
Now through a Glass Darkly brings both traditional medievalist and postmodernist approaches to bear in its attempt to understand both the powers and the limits of verbal art. Nolan explores the ways medieval writers and their Roman predecessors used formal and thematic mirrors to examine the implications of alterity in the face of similarity, arguing that these preoccupations were as central to the medieval sensibility as they are to our own. Now through a Glass Darkly frames several of the key issues in the current debate over the continued viability (or not) of the inherited canon of Western culture, such as the question whether there is any meaning at all to be rescued from such notions as “coherence” or “tradition” in Western literature.
Now through a Glass Darkly will appeal to the educated generalist interested in the relationships between literature and its surrounding intellectual and cultural contexts as well as to those more specifically interested in medieval poetry and poetics. For medievalists and those who work at the intersection of critical theory and medieval literature, Now through a Glass Darkly will be of critical importance.
Praise / Awards
". . . an appealing, often moving work--a humane contribution to literary studies."
". . . beautifully written, full of striking sentences and clever devices . . . ."
—Studies in the Age of Chaucer
". . . [will] serve as a mirror of the thoughtful, elegant, engaged, and intelligent reading of medieval literature."
—Studies in the Age of Chaucer
Introduction: The Cracked Looking Glass-1
1. The Ivory Gate: Virgil, Daedalus, and the Limits of Art-15
2. The Severed Head: Ovid, Orpheus, and the Powers of Art-35
3. The Book in the Garden: St. Augustine and the Authentication of the Self in the Other-55
4. Self as Other: Medieval Commentary and the Domain of the Letter-83
5. The Damaged Mouth: Heinrich von Morungen, Narcissus, and the Catastrophe of Recognition-115
6. Toads in the Garden: Chretien de Troyes, Anagnorisis, and Epithalamion-133
7. The Descending Dove: Dante's Francesca as the Anti-Beatrice-171
8. Knocking the Mary Out of the Bones: Chaucer's Ethical Mirror of Dante-193
9. Speculum of the Logos: Latin in Dante and Langland-219
Conclusion: Promised Ends-243
Appendix: Mirrors in Modern Theory and Cultural History-273
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