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Chaste Passions: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends (Paperback)
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Chaste Passions: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends (Paperback)

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£22.99
Paperback 224 Pages / Published: 26/04/2000
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Virgin martyrs make up one of the largest categories of medieval saints. To judge by their frequent appearances in art and literature, they also figure among the most venerated. The legends of virgin martyrs, retold in various ways through the centuries, illuminate trends in popular piety, values, and literary tastes. Chaste Passions contains sixteen English virgin martyr legends, each of a different saint and each translated into colloquial, modern English prose. Faithful in tone and meaning to the originals, Karen Winstead's lively translations allow contemporary readers to appreciate why virgin martyr legends thrived for hundreds of years. Winstead presents the tales in chronological order, tracing the effects of the composition and tastes of the audience on the development of the genre. The virgin martyr, Winstead tells us, escapes the confining female stereotypes-demure maiden or disruptive shrew-prevalent in writings of the period. Because nearly all of the texts were written by men but addressed to women, they exhibit a fascinating interplay between male views of so-called women's literature and the demands of their intended audience. Familiarity with this widely read genre is essential to a full understanding of medieval culture, and Chaste Passions is an excellent introduction to these often racy, sometimes comic, tales

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801485572
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 312 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Although virgin martyrs have often been regarded as prototypical female victims, the feisty heroines who emerge from Karen Winstead's lively translations face their oppressors with spirit, eloquence and even, occasionally, colorful profanity. These delightful legends by diverse writers assembled in Chaste Passions testify to the versatility and popularity of the virgin martyr figure in later medieval culture."

-- Kathleen Ashley, University of Southern Maine

"Chaste Passions provides a wonderful introduction to the genre. Although the book is accessible to those new to the field, even specialists in Middle English will use and appreciate Karen Winstead's selection of vernacular legends, her knowledgeable introductions and bibliographies, and her colorful, idiomatic translations of the texts themselves."

-- Sherry Reames, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Even though medieval martyr legends seem to be bizarre, grotesque even, at time pornographic, sadistic, and also fanatical, modern scholarship has realized the considerable value of this literary genre for the history of mentality, popular religion, woman's history, and the history of popular culture....Winstead's 'Chaste Passions' will be a pleasant addition to many reading lists."

-- Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona * Mediaevistik *

"I must again emphasise how impressive, overall, this collection truly is, and how Winstead's translations will open up possible classroom discussions.... This is a fine anthology, and an important, and-it must be said-fun addtion to any bookshelf."

-- Jacqueline Jenkins, University of Calgary * Arthuriana *

"Karen Winstead does a great service in collecting these previously unavailable tales. Her high-quality translations are more than readable-they are lively and entertaining. Chaste Passions allows modern readers to get a sense of why these tales-often racy, even salacious, and sometimes quite comic-were so appealing to medieval audiences."

-- Laurie Finke, Kenyon College

"These saints' stories are anything but saintly. The tales Winstead translates... are instead gory, horrific accounts of hell's fury, religious devotion, and endless purity. Modern readers may expect these old religious stories to seem lame by today's standards. Not so. The stories remain moving, shocking and entertaining even hundreds of years after they were written... Winstead couples informative essays with translations of intriguing stories to give readers keen insight into the virgin martyr legends, a view once reserved only for scholars."

-- Marjory Raymer * ForeWord Magazine *

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