Tag Archives: medieval

The Devil in a Forest

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Devil in a Forest by Gene Wolfe.

Gene Wolfe The Devil in a Forest

This novel is a pretty quick read. The “science fiction” imprint and the “fantasy” label are both misleading; there’s nothing supernatural or counterfactual in the setting or the plot. It’s just a straightforward adventure story set in a medieval village and its environs. The protagonist is a savvy but ignorant fifteen-year-old weaver’s apprentice.

The interaction between Catholicism and the vestiges of indigenous European religion is a major subtext of the story, and it’s no Wiccanish glamorization of the latter. Wolfe’s own Catholicism often informs his fiction, and it may do so here, but in any case, the result is a more realistic treatment of the material than one usually encounters in a novel with this sort of historical setting.

There’s a significant plot-twist that seemed a little obvious to me, but the whole thing was so lucidly written and well-paced that I didn’t mind a bit. [via]


The Wine & The Will

The Wine and the Will: Rabelais’s Bacchic Christianity by Florence M Weinberg, the 1972 first edition hardcover from Wayne State University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence M Weinberg The Wine & The Will from Wayne State University Press

“In a solid contribution to the field of French Renaissance literature, this study follows the trends of criticism initiated by the revolutionary discoveries of Glison, Febvre, and Screech, focusing on two major emblematic aspects of Rabelais’s novels. Using primary Renaissance iconological material, the author reconstructs the processes by which Renaissance authors (and Rabelais) coded their teachings in symbols that were both entertaining and useful to the learned reader of the time.

The author investigates two major Christian and humanistic aspects of Rabelais’s novels which were meant to test the ingenuity of a learned audience. She takes into account Hellenic and Hellenistic traditions of hermetism—numerology and symbolic iconology in their medieval and Renaissance transformations. The study is designed to show how Rabelais, a Renaissance humanist, fuses comic popular and pagan traditions to convey an evangelical Christian message. It reveals hidden meanings of episodes in Rabelais’s work previously dismissed as simply amusing, and conveys how humor and irony combined in ‘folly’ becomes the vehicle for wisdom.

The symbolism of the wine and the will, explored and understood in all its theological and humanistic complexity, deepens our understanding of Rabelais’s work and Renaissance thought in general.”

 

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