Thursday, April 25, 2013

Medieval autobiographies, letters, and more!

This is one of the reasons I love being a graduate student - periodically, professors who retire or, terribly sadly in this case, pass away, pass along their books to upcoming young scholars.  My husband was working in the Divinity School library the other day as usual when a new cart of free books was put out.  Like the wonderful fellow scholar that he is, he snagged me a copy of a 15th-century primary source that I've quoted in conference papers but have never had the chance to read fully for myself.  I've been dying to read The Book of Margery Kempe and thanks to him, now I own a copy (and in modern spelling, no less!)  When I came to meet him later, I found a few other books on the cart that will be either useful for my research or just really interesting summer reads.

 Three of them are part of a standard series on the history of England, but the other three are less textbook-y.  I debated whether to bother posting these finds on my blog - after all, most of my readers probably aren't terribly interested in a book like "English Society in the Early Middle Ages" - but then I realized that despite their age, several of these books actually might be of interest to book bloggers.  Who among us doesn't love a good autobiography or set of letters?  Well, The Book of Margery Kempe is the earliest known English autobiography and a fascinating look into the life and faith of a medieval woman.  The Pastons: The letters of a family in the Wars of the Roses promises both historical interest and an intimate portrait of domestic life.  Finally, Christine de Pisan's The Treasure of the City of Ladies is an early 15th-century book directed at women, a sort of etiquette guide and survival manual for the practical realities of living as a female in a patriarchal society.


My summer reading list is enormous but I will cheerfully add these three to the pile!  And in about a week, my summer will officially commence!  Until then, I just have to turn in seminar paper #2, finish edits on paper #3, and turn my detailed outline into paper #4.  Best of luck to everyone finishing up their semesters.  Does anyone have any fabulous summer plans?  What do you hope to read this summer?

1 comment:

  1. This reader, at least, is thankful you posted on these books. Christine de Pisan and Margery Kempe are already on my long term TBR. But excited to learn about "The Pastons" as I've recently developed an interest in that time period.

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