Thomas C. Moser, Jr. explores the fascinating body of medieval Latin erotic poetry found in English manuscripts. His study describes the intellectual and social context from which the great erotic songs of the twelfth century emerged, and examines a variety of erotic poems, from school exercises to the magnificent lyrics found in Arundel 384. He also illuminates the influence of neoplatonic philosophy on this poetry, explicating key neoplatonic texts and applying that analysis in close readings of erotic lyrics from the same period and milieu.
A Cosmos of Desire will interest scholars of medieval literature as well as specialists in Latin poetry and philosophy. Students of Middle English literature will find that it fills an important gap in our understanding of English intellectual life between the twelfth and the fourteenth century. All Latin prose and poetry is translated, some works for the first time, and the book is generously illustrated with photographs of the manuscripts discussed.
"The text is well laid out and error free...This is an important book, a definitive account of philosophical outlooks and poetic productions in the High Middle Ages. It is a major contribution to both literary and intellectual history."
—Rita Copeland, University of Pennsylvania