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Ekphrastic Medieval Visions: A New Discussion in Interarts by C. Barbetti

By C. Barbetti

Explores the transformative strength of ekphrasis in excessive and past due medieval dream visions and mystical visions. Demonstrates that medieval ekphrases show ekphrasis as a approach instead of a style and exhibits the way it works with cultural reminiscence to remodel, shift, and revise composition.

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Extra info for Ekphrastic Medieval Visions: A New Discussion in Interarts Theory

Sample text

I quote from the dream during which Dante is taken up to Mount Purgatory by Lucia in Purgatorio: In the hour near morning when the swallow begins her sad lays, perhaps in memory of her first woes, and when our mind, journeying further from the f lesh and less taken by its cares, is almost a diviner in its visions, in dream I seemed to see an eagle hovering in the sky, with golden feathers and open wings, intent to stoop, and I seemed to be where people were abandoned by Ganymede, when he was carried off to the highest consistory.

Modern assumptions of the single narrator create narrow interpretations. No such formula exists with any certainty or clarity in the Middle Ages, though much literature has mistakenly been read and interpreted according to this narratorial model in the last century. ”34 George Kittredge’s assertion has generally set the mold for scholarly interpretation ever after. Consider the interpretations of Chaucer’s narrators, from the Nun’s Priest and the Wife of Bath to the dreamers in Book of the Duchess and Parliament of Fowls, Pearl ’s dreamer, and Will in Piers Plowman: each of these “narrators” has been psychologically picked apart by critics and his or her words judged heavily against the characters’ textual description, actions, and the action of the text.

They also catalyze the double character in the medieval understanding of dreams and the dream vision, a character whose medial position sparks questions of interpretation. Just as self-introspection yields itself to uncovering the truth of essences, the design of the universe ref lects the soul of the human being: the medieval universe is one of analogue, ref lection, and inversion. Dreams to the medieval mind are relegated to the workings of the soul, that which draws together the physical or mundane components of existence with the ethereal and divine realities of existence.

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