Literary Landscapes and the Idea of England, 700-1400 by Catherine A.M. Clarke

By Catherine A.M. Clarke

In its exploration of literary representations of perfect landscapes and the creation of English identification throughout Latin and vernacular texts from Bede to Chaucer, this examine appears particularly at pastoral and locus amoenus traditions in Medieval English literature, and the early mythologisation of English panorama, area and identification via pastoral topoi. From Bede's Ecclesiastical background and its seminal interpretation of england because the pleasant island, the research strikes via representations of panorama in outdated English poetry to the exploitation of the symbolic capability in their neighborhood landscapes through nearby monastic homes in 12th- and thirteenth-century texts and pastoral conventions, performances and the assumption of town within the fourteenth century. Introductory and concluding sections shape bridges to present scholarship on representations of Englishness via pastoral topoi within the Early sleek interval. Dr Catherine A M Clarke lectures in outdated and heart English at collage university, Oxford.

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The reference to ‘many islands’ might suggest a metaphorical archipelago of Christian nations in which Britain is included. However, we may also look for these ‘many islands’ within Britain, where the national myth of the struggle to recover the ideal, Edenic land is performed and celebrated in local sites and by local saints and heroes. Bede’s Edenic island is not merely a rhetorical ‘purple patch’ grafted onto the beginning of the History, but a seminal image which develops throughout the text.

Ibid. Translated by Colgrave as ‘repose’. Ibid. The Edenic Island 29 This solider of Christ, as soon as he had become monarch of the land he had entered and had overcome the army of the usurpers, built a city fitted for his rule, and in it houses equally suited to the city. 47 Although this passage verges on mock-heroic for the modern reader, it seems that Bede is appropriating a series of authorising literary models to portray Cuthbert’s settlement of Farne. This series of high rhetorical styles celebrates Cuthbert’s achievement from all angles and places beyond attack the legitimacy and authority of his actions.

It is ornamented with twenty-eight cities and a number of castles, and well equipped with fortifications – walls, castellated towers, gates and houses, whose sturdily built roofs rear menacingly skyward. Bede, using Gildas as source, also refers to the twenty-eight cities as a source of former fame. Erat et ciuitatibus quondam XX et VIII nobilissimis insignita, praetor castella unnumera quae et ipsa muris, turribus, portis ac seris errant instructis firmissimis. The country was once famous for its twenty-eight noble cities as well as innumerable fortified places equally well guarded by the strongest of walls and towers, gates and locks.

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