The Late Medieval Origins of the Modern Novel

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9781349576197: The Late Medieval Origins of the Modern Novel

Dramatically refreshing the age-old debate about the novel's origins and purpose, Kent traces the origin of the modern novel to a late medieval fascination with the wounded, and often eroticized, body of Christ. A wide range of texts help to illustrate this discovery, ranging from medieval 'Pietās' to Thomas Hardy to contemporary literary theory.

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About the Author:

Rachel Andrea Kent is an Independent Scholar in New Zealand.


"Kent shows a profound sensitivity to the emotional and ethical capacity of art and literature to communicate complex and multi-faceted meanings. Her weaving together of medieval devotional art and modern literature is scintillating in its allusive and suggestive associations, offering a moving and eloquent insight into the difference between the suffering body as the compassionate focus of piety/pity, and the suffering body as the pornographic focus of violence and possession." - Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Roehampton, UK

"Working within a discipline that now searches for multiple lines of filiation, Kent develops a wide-ranging argument in service of a provocative thesis: the novel emerges as a 'site of endurance' for a liturgically-based ontology 'embodied,' quite literally, in late-medieval devotional practices. 'Modernity's' supposed rupture with its 'medieval' past is once again challenged by a writer willing to engage with what has been overlooked, marginalized, concealed - this time in service of a renewed spirituality." - James M. Kee, Professor of English, College of the Holy Cross, USA

"A new, spicy voice in the counter-tradition that runs from Margaret Anne Doody to Thomas Pavel, Kent's work upends scholarly assumptions of the novel's modern origins and secularizing trajectory. Her insistence on the priority of the erotic, impassioned person and visceral personal encounter without which there is no signification or meaning and her lyrical flourishes from theology to cultural theory to the middle ages and back again make this a delicious, electric, and satisfying read." - Lori Branch, Associate Professor of English, The University of Iowa, USA

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