The Continuation of the Middle Ages in the Early Modern Print Period. With an Emphasis on Melusine and Till Eulenspiegel

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Abstract

It is highly fashionable today to project either a very negative or a very positive image of the Middle Ages. The invention of the printing press has hence often been associated with a radical change in literature, religion, politics, and generally the public media. Indeed, we can observe an imminent paradigm shift, ultimately leading, above all, to the Protestant Reformation, which would not have been possible without the printing press. However, technological revolutions do not necessarily transform the Zeitgeist or the history of mentality, the general value systems, and hence the fundamental concepts of literature. Although many medieval romances and heroic epics were soon eclipsed by new types of prose novels, for instance, printed and sold on the early modern book markets, in many other cases the medieval narratives, such as the various versions of the Melusine novel and the jest narratives of Till Eulenspiegel, experienced an astounding afterlife and renewed interests through the printed versions, and this far into the seventeenth century. This article does not intend to diminish the huge impact of the printing press on late medieval culture, but wants to qualify further and discriminate more in detail what really changed and what remained the same within the history of literature. Both the narratives discussed here and their accompanying woodcuts demonstrate a smooth continuation of late medieval topics well into the early modern period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPublishing Research Quarterly
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Afterlife of the Middle Ages
  • Book markets
  • Couldrette
  • Das Lied vom Hürnen Seyfrid
  • Huon de Bordeaux
  • Jean d’Arras
  • Melusine
  • Paradigm shift
  • Printing press
  • Thüring von Ringoltingen
  • Till Eulenspiegel
  • William Caxton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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