Back in January, I wrote a blog post about the medieval era in general and the fact that it suffers as a time overshadowed by the Renaissance, a period of flowering humanism and artistic and cultural progress. I have nothing against the Renaissance, folks, but I am regularly surprised and delighted that the Middle Ages is still such a vivid part of our collective imagination.
Two other posts of mine listed my ten favourite films about the middle ages. Some of these films are enduring classics of modern cinema (Braveheart, Seventh Seal, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, etc.) But it is most pleasing to me that those posts are easily the most widely viewed pages on this blog. Each week, visitors come to the blog redirected from Google searches on phrases like, “top movies with plots based in the middle ages.”
Some may think otherwise, but my fascination with the time period is not just an obscure, geeky obsession with the past. It emerges from the here and now … from the fact that we are still captivated by the mysteries of the medieval era and we don’t have to look very far to see it. Last night I opened a copy of the January 26, 2009 issue New Yorker magazine — one of the dozens around our house — and found this delightful cartoon (You can click on the drawing to make it larger).
The romance of the beautiful damsel, the castle turret, the longbowman, the siege warfare — popular ideas of what the time period consisted of. Sieges did, indeed happen, and so did the damsel in distress, I am sure. But I am pleased to be writing a novel that is trying to bring some different colours to the time period, to feed this fascination we still hold for a time so long ago.
Yes, Brother Richard. I think we should follow Oswald, now, as he is supposed to know the way to Clairmarais.