Review of Medeltid: Närbilder från fyra världsdelar (1968)


Read in 2016.

An anthology of essays, each derived from a radio program, each based on a medieval document or other historical artifact.

Highlights: Bertil Almgren skillfully outlines the context of the poem in runes on the Ruthwell Cross, the earliest English poem, which is a beautiful, albeit religious, thought experiment: The imaginary cross of the crucifixion of Jesus telling its story with an ecocritical spark: “From my own stock I was struck away...”. Torgny Säve-Söderbergh writes of Nubian cultural artifacts threatened by the Aswan High Dam, and the remarkable Christian culture that existed—to some extent still exists—in that country. Åke Wedin gives a good example of historiographic skepticism in the case of the Inca. Geo Widengren contextualizes the Gesta Francorum’s horrific story of the First Crusade. Carl Göran Wildstrand tries to approach the medieval history of East Africa as the land of Zanj, as observed by Arab and Chinese explorers.

Some of the material is in need of an update, but being very brief and evocative, the volume is still a good read.

References here: Time Signs (1991).

text non-fiction series