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Narrative and Experience

Innovations in Thirteenth-Century Picture Books

Kumiko Maekawa

The principal purpose of this book is to describe a new narrative mode in thirteenth-century French and English illuminated manuscripts, to situate it in the historical art context and to further investigate its cultural background. A hypothetical reader will be reconstructed from pictorial narratives and then compared with historical readers’ practices simulated from historical, literary and linguistic documents.
We will first establish that there is a continuous narrative in the Old Testament pictures of the St Louis Psalter, which depicts not only textual structure but also temporal and spatial or logical relationship between scenes. This was made possible by an ingenious use of frames, margins, layout and especially the codex form in combination with the gaze, gestures and movements of the characters. Such narrative depictions are first seen in manuscripts of c. 1000 and developed over the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Change in pictorial narrative in Apocalypse and hagiographic manuscripts paralleled this. Finally, conditions that stimulated the formation of new narrative depictions in illustrations of different texts will be investigated in the evolution of the relationship between readers and books, of the concept of time and of devotional practices.
Contents: Illuminated manuscripts – Reception aesthetics – Medieval readers – Visual and meaningful relationship between scenes – St Louis Psalter – Apocalypse – Lives of the Saints – Picture book – Trip iconography – Life of St Denis by Yves – Roman de la PoireLife of St EdwardLife of St EdmundSt Albans Psalter.