Medieval Lit Bibliography - Symbolic Themes


Baring-Gould, S. Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. Ed. Edward Hardy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
Although this work takes a decidedly popular approach, he retells some unusual legends, including the stories of the wandering Jew, the man in the moon, and the legends of the cross.

Bernheimer, R. Wild Men in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952.
This study covers the natural, mythological, and artistic history of the wild man. It also discusses to some degree demonology and the erotic and heraldic traditions.

Benson, C. David. The History of Troy in the Middle English Literature. Woodbridge, Suffolk: D.S. Brewer/ Rowman & Littlefield, 1980.
In addition to giving the medieval history of Troy, this work also gives the Middle English versions of the Troy story and the literary traditions. It includes good notes and an index.

Doob, Penelope. Nebuchadnezzar's Children: Conventions of Madness in Middle English Literature. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.
After a good chapter on medieval attitudes toward madness, this work goes on to consider madness in several medieval literary works. It includes good notes and index.

Economou, George D. The Goddess Natura in Medieval Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972.
After a good philosophical background which includes a discussion of Boethius, this work goes on to consider Natura in Bernard Silvestres, Alan of Lille, Jean de Meun, and Chaucer. It includes bibliography and index.

Friedman, John Block. The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.
This work focuses on the fabulous and the exotic races which existed or were imagined beyond the boundaries of the European world.

Friedman, John Block. Orpheus in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.
This work gives a good historical development of the figure of Orpheus and shows his connections to David and Christ. It then considers the literary works which contain the figure of Orpheus.

Husband, Timothy. The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980.
As a production from an art museum, the focus of this work is on the artistic representations of the wild man. There is a short introductory section followed by detailed descriptions of the plates.

Katzenellenbogen, Adolf. Allegories of the Virtues and Vices in Medieval Art. Trans. Alan J. P. Crick. London: The Warburg Institute, 1939.
The focus of this work is on various allegorical representations of virtues and vices in art.

Mellinkoff, Ruth. The Horned Moses in Medieval Art and Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.
Although this is actually a theme seen in art history, there is a section on literary representations in the Middle Ages. This scholarly work shows how Moses developed his horns, how they developed, and how they are connected with the Bishop's mitre. It includes plates and index.

Patch, Howard R. The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927.
Organized thematically, this work discusses the wheel of fortune and associated themes, including the philosophical background. It is scholarly and includes an index and bibliography.

Quinn, Esther Casier. The Quest of Seth for the Oil of Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.
In this standard work, Quinn traces the development of the cross legend associated with Seth. She includes a good bibliography and index.

Although the actual focus of this work is on seventeenth-century poetry, it provides good background material which touches on the medieval period. Specifically it covers the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs, the enclosed garden, shade, and time, giving in each case the appropriate medieval and patristic backgrounds. It includes plates and index.

Thiebaux, Marcelle. The Stag of Love: The Chase in Medieval Literature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974. 809 T346s
This work focuses on the symbolism of hunting and the stag, connecting the hunt to the love chase and tracing its development from antiquity to the medieval period.

Wenzel, Siegfried. The Sin of Sloth: Acedia in Medieval Thought and Literature. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960.
This is surely the standard study of sloth in medieval thought. It is scholarly and includes good background information.

Williams, George. Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962. (At the public library)
This work includes one of the best discussions of the symbolism of the wilderness, giving philosophical and patristic backgrounds for its interpretation.