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Metamorphosis and Identity [Hardcover]

Caroline Walker Bynum
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2001 1890951226 978-1890951221
The four studies in this book center on the Western obsession with the nature of personal identity. Focusing on the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but with an eye toward antiquity and the present, Caroline Walker Bynum explores the themes of metamorphosis and hybridity in genres ranging from poetry, folktales, and miracle collections to scholastic theology, devotional treatises, and works of natural philosophy. She argues that the obsession with boundary-crossing and otherness was an effort to delineate nature's regularities and to establish a strong sense of personal identity, extending even beyond the grave. She examines historical figures such as Marie de France, Gerald of Wales, Bernard Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante, as well as modern fabulists such as Angela Carter, as examples of solutions to the perennial question of how the individual can both change and remain constant. Addressing the fundamental question for historians--that of change--Bynum also explores the nature of history writing itself.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zone Books (1 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890951226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890951221
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,633,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Bynum is asking that even while we deploy all the tricks and tools of modern historical analysis, we take seriously the obligation to marvel at the complexity, at the otherness, of the medieval world, a world that we will never perfectly understand and yet that seems to point to something worth understanding." Patrick J. Geary The New Republic "Over the past 30 years, Bynum has published an initially contentious series of books that have illuminated many aspects of the oddness of the medieval world... This time she focuses on Christians' intense devotion to objects that they believed both signaled and embodied God's essence and glory." - The Chronicle of Higher Education

About the Author

Caroline Walker Bynum is University Professor at Columbia University. She is the author of Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336, and Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Body in Medieval Religion (Zone Books, 1991).

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book 22 Jan 2013
By ngpl
Format:Paperback
As always with Caroline Walker Bynum, this is a brilliant book, with a wonderful chapter on wonder and the miraculous in medieval imagination. Full of instruction and an incitement to thought.
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