Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England: The Work of Osbern Bokenham

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9780195109894: Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England: The Work of Osbern Bokenham

This pioneering book explores the work of English Augustinian friar Osbern Bokenham, an ardent Yorkist on the eve of the "Wars of the Roses" and a gifted poet. Sheila Delany focuses on a manuscript written in 1447, the "Legend of Holy Women." Narrating the lives and ordeals of thirteen heroic and powerful saints, this was the first all-female legendary in English, much of it commissioned by wealthy women patrons in the vicinity of Clare Priory, Suffolk, where Bokenham lived. Delany structures her book around the image of the human body. First is the corpus of textual traditions within which Bokenham wrote: above all, the work of his two competing masters, St. Augustine and Geoffrey Chaucer. Next comes the female body and its parts as represented in hagiography, with Bokenham's distinctive treatment of the body and the corporeal semiotic of his own legendary. Finally, the image of the body politic allows Delany to examine the relation of Bokenham's work to contemporary political life. She analyzes both the legendary and the friar's translation of a panegyric by the late-classical poet Claudian. The poetry is richly historized by Delany's reading of it in the context of succession crises, war, and the connection of women to political power during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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About the Author:


Sheila Delany is Professor of English at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. She is the author of such books as Chaucer's House of Fame: The Politics of Skeptical Fideism, The Naked Text: Chaucer's Legend of Good Women and Writing Woman, Medieval and Modern.

Review:


"Original and provocative....An engaging and lively study that should appeal to all faculty and students...of medieval literature and culture."--Choice


"Impolitic Bodies, with its exquisite literary and historical contextualization, powerful analysis, and magisterial scope, ranks as one of the best books ever published on a fifteenth-century author."--John M. Ganim, University of California, Riverside


"...Delany does a masterful job of drawing together a wealth of current criticism's most hotly discussed."--C. Marie Harker, Truman State University


"Absorbing, subtle, complex reading. Among the leading ranks of medieval feminist scholarship, [Impolitic Bodies] may help restore the 15th Century to its rightful place in English literary history."--John McLaughlin, E. Stroudsburg University


"Sheila Delany's book is as complex and ambitious as its title and subtitle suggest....it is a valuable work that adds to more than just the increasing interest in fifteenth-century studies."--Arthuriana


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In Impolitic Bodies Delany breaks important ground in fiteenth-century scholarship, a critical site of cultural study. Delany examines the work of English Augustinian friar Osbern Bokenham, never before written on at length, and fully explores the relations of history and literature in the particularly turbulent period in English history, beginning with The Wars of the Roses and during the Hundred Years War. Delany examines the first collection of all female saints lives in any language: Legends of Holy Women composed by Bokenham between 1443 and 1447. The book is organized around the image of the body -- a medieval procedure becoming popular once again in current attention to the social construction of the body. One emphasis is Bokenham s relation to the body of English literature, particularly Chaucer, the symbolic head of the fifteenth century. Another emphasis is a focus on the genre of saints lives, particularly female saints lives, with their striking use of the body of the saint to generate meaning. Finally, the image of the body politic, the controlling image of medieval political thought is here, and Bokenham s means to examine the political and dynastic crises of fifteenth-century England. Delany uses these three major concerns to explain the literary innovation of Bokenham s Legend, and the larger and political importance of that innovation. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195109894

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