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Spectral Sea

Mediterranean Palimpsests in European Culture

by Stephen G. Nichols (Volume editor) Joachim Küpper (Volume editor) Andreas Kablitz (Volume editor)
Monographs XVI, 230 Pages
Series: Medieval Interventions, Volume 8
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Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Contributors
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • On the Salutary Effects of Empire: Muslims, Jews, and the Calculus of Benefaction (Marina Rustow)
  • Thought Things: Greek, Arabic, Latin (Daniel Heller-Roazen)
  • Greek Fathers, Roman Tyrants, Spanish Martyrs: The Invention of European Vernacular Language (Stephen G. Nichols)
  • The Gaze of the Other: Decentered Vision and Language in Fifteenth-Century French Poets (Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet)
  • The Uncanny Beyond: The Mediterranean as Imaginary Frontier of Medieval Christian Culture (Jan-Dirk Müller)
  • Crusade Witness: Joinville’s Vie de Saint Louis (Axel Rüth)
  • Rome, Italy and the End of the History of Salvation: Petrarch’s Italia mia (Gerhard Regn)
  • Sentimental Revivals: Gérard de Nerval’s Voyage en Orient (Joachim Küpper)
  • “Geist” as Medium of Art: Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (David E. Wellbery)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Contributors

Jacqueline CERQUIGLINI-TOULET is Professor emerita at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. She specializes in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century French literature, especially Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de Pizan and François Villon. Before her appointment as Professor of Medieval French at the Sorbonne, she held a chair in medieval French at the University of Geneva. In North America, she has been visiting professor at a number of institutions including Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California (Berkeley), the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College. Among her books are The Color of Melancholy and A New History of Medieval French Literature. Her edition and translation of Les Oeuvres complètes de François Villon was published in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 2014.

Daniel HELLER-ROAZEN is the Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature and the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. His most recent books are No One’s Ways: An Essay on Infinite Naming (2017); Dark Tongues: The Art of Rogues and Riddlers (2013); and The Fifth Hammer: Pythagoras and the Disharmony of the World (2011). He has also edited the Norton Critical Edition of the Arabian Nights (2010).

Joachim KÜPPER is Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Literatures at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He has published on literary, historiographical and philosophical texts from Homer to the twentieth century. He was awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz prize as well as the Leibniz prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. He is currently working on a network theory of cultural dynamics (European Research Council Advanced Grant). He is a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, and a ← vii | viii → member of the German National Academy of Sciences/Leopoldina as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jan-Dirk MÜLLER is Professor Emeritus of German Philology at the University of Munich. After studying at the Universities of Vienna, Tübingen and Cologne, he held Professorships at the University of Münster, and then at the University of Hamburg. In 1991, he was named Professor of medieval German at Munich. He is a member of the Bavarian Academy and Academy of Göttingen, a fellow of the Historische Kolleg of Munich, and IFK [International Research Center for Cultural Studies] in Vienna. He has held visiting professorships at Washington University (St. Louis), the University of Kansas (Lawrence), and the University of California (Berkeley). His books include Rules for the Endgame: The World of the Nibelungenlied; Höfische Kompromisse: Act Kapitel zur Höfishen Epik; Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, “Emilia Galotti”; and Minnesang und Literaturtheorie.

Stephen G. NICHOLS is James M. Beall Professor Emeritus of French and Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Medieval Academy of America, and Honorary Senior Fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory (Cornell), he received the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize for Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography. He holds an honorary Docteur ès Lettres, from the University of Geneva, and was decorated Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded him a Research Prize in 2008 and 2015. He has held Guggenheim and ACLS research fellowships. Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts, he co-founded Digital Philology, A Journal of Medieval Culture, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Author or editor of twenty-five books, the most recent is From Parchment to Cyberspace: Medieval Literature in the Digital Age (2016).

Gerhard REGN is Professor Emeritus of Italian Philology at the University of Munich and Honorary Professor at the University of Cologne. His research focuses on Italian medieval and premodern literature, and on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature in Italy and France. He is a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In 2007 he was nominated Commendatore dell’Ordine della Solidarietà Italiana of the Italian Republic. Regn has published numerous articles and books, including Letture Petrarchesche (2007, co-editor); Lyriktheorie(n) der italienischen Renaissance (2012 co-author); Francesco Petrarca, Secretum meum; and Lateinisch-Deutsch (second newly revised edition, 2013, co-editor and co-translator). ← viii | ix →

Marina RUSTOW is the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East in the Departments of History and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2015. She taught at Emory University and Johns Hopkins University prior to her appointment at Princeton. She was a fellow at the American Academy of Rome (2007) and a Guggenheim Fellow (2014). She directs Princeton’s Geniza Lab for the study of Judeo-Arabic documents found in the Cairogeniza. Her publications include Heresy and the Politics of Community: The Jews of the Fatimid Caliphate; “Formula as Content: Medieval Jewish Institutions, the Cairo Geniza, and the New Diplomatics,” Jewish Social Studies 20 (1914); “Yerushalmi and the Conversos,” Jewish History 27 (2014); and “Three Cases of Jewish Heresy,” Past and Present 197 (2007).

Axel RÜTH is assistant professor of French and Italian literature at the Petrarca Institute and the Romance Languages Department of the University of Cologne. He received his PhD for a book on narrative structures in the historiography of the Annales School (2005). His Habilitation thesis deals with the intersection of the supernatural (“le merveilleux”), the fantastic, and Christian theology in medieval literature (2017). Other publications include articles on Montesquieu, Balzac, Barthes and the notions of metaphor and of the everyday. In collaboration with Steen Bille Jørgensen of Aarhus University he edited a book on the concept of the work of art. His research interests include narrativity, the French moralist tradition, there presentation of history in literature, and literary theory in general.

David E. WELLBERY is LeRoy T. and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson University Professor in Germanic Studies and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include The Specular Moment: Goethe’s Early Lyric and the Beginnings of Romanticism (1996) and Goethes ‘FaustI’: Reflexion der tragischen Form (2016). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He is holder the Research Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Jason and Wilhelm Grimm Prize of the German Academic Exchange Service. Since 1998, Wellbery has served as editor of the Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte. ← ix | x →

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Preface

The chapters contained in this volume originated as papers delivered at an international conference entitled Europe and the Mediterranean World, 500–1500, which took place at the Deutsches Studienzentrum in Venice, Italy, November 5–8, 2009. The editors are grateful to the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung for a grant covering a substantial portion of the conference expenses. We also wish to acknowledge the institutions who contributed matching funds to supplement the Thyssen Stiftung’s generosity: The Dahlem Humanities Center of the Freie Universität, Berlin, The Johns Hopkins University, The University of Chicago, and the Collège de France.

Thanks to the support of Prof.-Dr. Med. Dr. phil. Klaus Bergdolt, Chairman of the Association of the Deutsche Studienzentrum in Venedig, the conference unfolded over three enchanted days in the unforgettable setting of the Palazzo Barbarigo della Terrazza on Venice’s Grand Canal. We are grateful to Prof.-Dr. Bergdolt and to the gracious staff of the Deutsche Studienzentrum for their hospitality.

Finally, a heartfelt vote of thanks to Michelle Salyga, Acquisitions Editor at Peter Lang Publishing, for her enthusiastic support of this project, and to the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung whose publication subvention assured the publication of this volume.

Baltimore, MD

May 2016 ← xi | xii →

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Introduction

“[…] There gloom the dark, broad sea.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

“And then went down to the ship,
Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and
We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,
Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also
Heavy with weeping, so winds from sternward
Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,
Circe’s this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.”

Ezra Pound, Canto 1

“Sing, Muse, of that wily hero who wandered far and wide after sacking the sacred citadel of Troy. Sing, Muse, of the sorrows he suffered at sea, seeking to regain his home.”

Homer, The Odyssey 1

“The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.”

Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea

From the dawn of ancient civilization to modern times, the Mediterranean Sea loomed in the imagination of the people living on its littoral as a space of myth and adventure, of conquest and confrontation, of migration and settlement, of religious ferment and conflict. The sea was at once a reality and a metaphor, a link and a barrier, but above all an ever-present threat. As we ← xiii | xiv → know from literature and history, the threat came not only from nature and marauders—descriptions of ferocious storms and sea-borne attacks abound—but from religious, political, and cultural colonization. It is no accident that the three great monotheisms, the three religions of the Book and the Land—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all arose from and spread out through the Mediterranean world. In sum, the Middle Sea was a force for mediation and so perceived from the earliest times by those who named it.

Mediterranean, the sea between southern Europe and northern Africa, from Late Latin Mare Mediterraneum, “Mediterranean Sea,” from Latin medius + terra or “the sea in the middle of the earth.” Appropriating it to their own political ends, the Romans also spoke of Mare nostrum “our sea.” The Greeks called it Mesogeios (µεσό) “middle” + (γειος) “earth”; while the Hebrew Bible refers to “the great sea” (mare Magnus in the Vulgate, Numbers 34: 6,7; Joshua 1: 4, 9: 1, etc.). Islam termed it Al-Bahr Al-Abyad Al-Mutawassit, “the Middle white sea,” and the Old English name was Wendel-sae, from the Vandals, the Germanic tribe that settled on its southwest coast after the fall of Rome.”

Such supposedly modern concepts as multiculturalism and globalism flourished in the lands linked and parted by this locale, which is as much a canvas for mythic speculation as a geographical space. Over the centuries, its fascination stemmed from the witness it bore to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. And as these cultures succeeded one another century after century, each left tantalizing traces on later societies. Like the ancient artifacts constantly washed up from its depths, the lost cities and monuments abandoned in deserts, on islands, and cliffs, Mediterranean topography and culture is a chaotic present spread over a palimpsest many layers deep.

Perhaps no culture engaged with the myth and history of the Mediterranean world more expansively and over a longer span of time than that of Europe. It had good reason. For the lower-tier European countries evolved from Roman domination. While Roman speech formed the languages of Italy, Spain, France, Romania, and parts of Switzerland, even Britain and the Teutonic domains retain vestiges of Greco-Roman presence. The languages and cultures that came to define Romania reflect the displacement of indigenous tongues, customs, and in some places peoples by superposed Mediterranean civilizations. We must bear in mind that it was not only the Greeks and Romans who marked Europe. Though more self-contained, the presence of Jews and Moslems cast an outsize shadow on the European imaginary, particularly as figures of otherness provoking gruesome narratives of subversion, treachery, and conquest. That wellspring of fear and fantasy gave rise to graphic literary accounts of atrocities like the “blood libel,” a staple of ← xiv | xv → anti-Semitism encountered first in the saint’s life of a child, William of Norwich, supposedly martyred by Rabbis in the late twelfth century.

While the master narrative of the Phoenician, Greek, Roman, and Islamic conquests is well known, the story of how, over centuries, Europeans grappled with the consequences of this domination—unusual for its scale and durée—is less clearly delineated, at least in its more profound implications. Of course the main lines of the narrative were thematized in the histories and literary works that portrayed the events in late classical times, and then, even more expansively, throughout the Middle Ages. While fascinating in its own right, that master narrative falls outside the purview of this volume. The studies that follow all seek to examine the diverse ways by which European vernacular thought and letters came to refract, consciously or unconsciously, the subtle interaction of local autochthonous cultures confronted by religious and philosophical systems whose evolution over centuries and enrichment by contributions from different Mediterranean traditions enveloped them in the aura of authority consistent with prevailing notions of universal “truth.”

Summary

From the dawn of ancient civilization to modern times, the Mediterranean Sea looms in the imagination of the people living on its shores as a space of myth and adventure, of conquest and confrontation, of migration and settlement, of religious ferment and conflict. Since its waters linked the earliest empires and centers of civilization, the Mediterranean generated globalization and multiculturalism. It gave birth to the three great monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—religions of the book, of the land and of the sea. Over the centuries, the Mediterranean witnessed the rise and fall of some of the oldest civilizations in the world. And as these cultures succeeded one another, century after century, each left a tantalizing imprint on later societies. Like the ancient artifacts constantly washed up from its depths, the lost cities and monuments abandoned in its deserts or sunk beneath its waves, Mediterranean topography and culture is a chaotic present spread over a palimpsest many layers deep.
No region grappled more continuously with, nor was more deeply marked by Mediterranean culture and history than Europe. Europe’s religions, its languages, its learning, its laws, its sense of history, even its food and agriculture, all derived from Greek, Roman, and—in the Middle Ages—Muslim and Jewish cultures. The essays in this book lay bare the dynamics of cultural confrontation between Europe and the Mediterranean world from medieval to modern times. One momentous result of this engagement was the creation of vernacular languages and the diverse body of literature, history, and art arising from them. The achievements of the arts reveal—to borrow a geological metaphor—the grinding tectonic pates of Mediterranean cultures and languages butting up against pre-existing European strata.

Details

Pages
XVI, 230
ISBN (PDF)
9781433143144
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433143151
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433143168
ISBN (Softcover)
9781433143229
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433143175
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (October)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XVI, 230 pp.

Biographical notes

Stephen G. Nichols (Volume editor) Joachim Küpper (Volume editor) Andreas Kablitz (Volume editor)

Stephen G. Nichols is James M. Beall Professor Emeritus of French and Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Medieval Academy of America, his Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography received the MLA’s Lowell Prize. He holds an honorary Docteur ès Lettres from the University of Geneva and is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres. He received the Humboldt Research Prize in 2008 and 2015. He’s published 25 books, most recently From Parchment to Cyberspace: Medieval Literature in the Digital Age. Joachim Küpper is Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Literatures at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He has published literary, historiographical, and philosophical texts from Homer to the twentieth century. He won the Heinz-Meyer Leibnitz prize as well as the Leibniz prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. He is currently working on a network theory of cultural dynamics (European Research Council Advanced Grant). He is a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, a member of the German National Academy of Sciences/Leopoldina as well as of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Andreas Kablitz is Professor of Romance Philology and Chair of the Romanisches Seminar of the Philosophische Fakultät of the Universität zu Köln. He is also the director of the Petrarca-Institute, member of the editorial board of the Romanistisches Jahrbuch and of the academic committee of the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung. In 1997 he was awarded the Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. In 2007 he was to the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina). In 2010 the President of the Italian Republic named him Commendatore of the Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana. Although his recent research interest focuses on Dante, his publications cover a wide range of topics from French, Italian and English literature, particularly, Petrarch, Tasso, and other Italian and French Renaissance authors as well as Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, and Oscar Wilde. He has also written on Aristotle, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

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