Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages Rhetoric, Representation and Reality by Ruth Morse

Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages Rhetoric, Representation and Reality

Written by Ruth Morse
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Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages Rhetoric, Representation and Reality by Ruth Morse

Medieval assumptions about the nature of the representation involved in literary and historical narratives were widely different from our own. Writers and readers worked with a complex understanding of the relations between truth and convention, in which accounts of presumed fact could be expanded, embellished, or translated in a variety of accepted ways. Ruth Morse's challenging and wide-ranging book explores how these assumptions operated in a broad range of genres, including romance, history, and biography. The book recovers the rhetorical principles which governed the creation and interpretation of such writings, and demonstrates their educational centrality in medieval Europe. Drawing upon this background, Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages examines in detail the diverse ways in which ostensibly 'historical' narratives established their legitimacy, notably through their invocation of earlier textual authorities or 'sources'. In analysing these complex processes of narrative reconstruction, this lucid and accessible book itself reconstructs medieval habits of reading and writing, and raises far-reaching questions about language and representation.


...filled with important insights about medieval rhetoric and narrative....[T]he issues raised in the book should be carefully considered by students and scholars of medieval culture.

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Book Info


312 pages


Ruth Morse
More books by Ruth Morse


Cambridge University Press

Publication date

13th October 2005



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