Cover image for Ghosts in the Middle Ages : the living and the dead in Medieval society
Title:
Ghosts in the Middle Ages : the living and the dead in Medieval society
Author:
Schmitt, Jean-Claude, 1946-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Revenants. English
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xiii, 290 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Les revenants.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780226738871
Format :
Book

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Material Type
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GR135 .S3613 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

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


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Written by a prominent Annales historian, this work is a fascinating study of the growing prevalence of ghost imagery in ecclesiastical and popular writing from the fifth to the 15th century. According to Schmitt, ghostly visitations--either awake or in dreams--provide any number of services to the living: they can assuage grief with assurances of the salvation of the newly dead, request suffrages to relieve the punishments of Purgatory, act as messengers from and assistants of God, and advocate liturgical and doctrinal innovations. Like most mentalite historians, Schmitt does not recognize any real distinction between literary inventions of contact between ghosts and the living, and putative "true" visitations (which are nevertheless mediated through writing of the experience); all are able to enlighten readers on the ubiquitousness of ghosts in the medieval worldview. This work stands as a companion both to the work of Peter Brown (especially The Cult of the Saints, CH, May'81) and to the work of Jacques Le Goff (especially The Birth of Purgatory, CH, Jan'85, and History and Memory, 1992). The translation is elegant, with only a few historical inaccuracies, and makes for a good read. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. E. Mitchell; Alfred University


Table of Contents

Translator's Note Author's
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Ch. 1 The Rejection of Ghosts
Ch. 2 Dreaming of the Dead
Ch. 3 The Invasion of Ghosts
Ch. 4 The Marvelous Dead
Ch. 5 Hellequin's Hunt
Ch. 6 The Imaginary Tamed?
Ch. 7 The Dead and Power
Ch. 8 Time, Space, and Society
Ch. 9 Describing Ghosts
Conclusion
Notes
Index