The University of Wisconsin Press

Literature and Criticism


The Legenda Aurea
A Reexamination of Its Paradoxical History
Sherry L. Reames

In the thirteenth century a young Dominican friar, Jacobus de Voragine, compiled the book that came to be known as the Legenda aurea, a collection of medieval lore about the saints and holidays of the church. Through the centuries this noted book has had a conspicuously uneven reputation: enormous popularity in the late Middle Ages, a precipitous decline during the Renaissance, and a gradual rehabilitation in the modern era. Sherry L. Reames’s study of the Legenda aurea offers the first comprehensive account of the book’s history and of the qualities that differentiate it from earlier and less controversial works about the saints. The fresh perspective introduced by this study will provide new insights and challenge old myths for historians, literary critics, theologians, and students concerned with medieval culture and hagiography.

Sherry L. Reames is professor emerita of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her many publications include Middle English Legends of Women Saints.

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August 1985
LC: 84-040502 BX
384 pp. 6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-10150-3

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