THE SENSES IN LATE MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

C M WOOLGAR
336pp 90 ILLUS (30 COLOUR) 2007 LIST PRICE: £45.00 H465

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Description
Drawing from a wide range of sources, from saints' lives, collections of miracles, sermons and literary works, through to domestic financial records and the remains of buildings, Woolgar here seeks to recreate and explain the physical environment of the later medieval period. Using the sights, noises, smells, tastes and feelings of the time, he imagines the lives of medieval men and women. In this world, popular beliefs about the senses were closely intertwined with intellectual ideas about their operation. 'Stinking sin' and the 'odour of sanctity' are vestiges of a world that thought differently, a world where the lustre of a colour might be more important than its hue or moral qualities might attach to sound. The book also considers how sensation functioned in practice, looking in detail at the households of bishops, queens and the aristocracy. Woolgar's deft and scrupulous text recovers an elusive and fascinating world.
. . . lavishly illustrated . . . Woolgar [offers] a wealth of insights, anecdotes and interpretations. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW