Beastly Books

Christopher de Hamel

The Centre for the History of the Book, CHB News 2004, 2004, 3

"...a Bestiary was not merely an ill-informed book of natural history. It was in no way a practical guide to identifying animals. It was a religious book. It can best be approached by comparing the medieval monastic technique of studying the Bible. century. We can apply exactly the same technique of study to the Bestiary. ... Just as a medieval biblical writer would be reluctant to discard any verse of the Bible, however questionable its textual authority, for fear of accidentally rejecting authentic text, so too the compilers of Bestiaries did not dare exclude any animal from the canon, however improbable, in case they discarded part of the divine revelation. It is an interesting way of looking at a medieval text, and it tells us much about concepts of textual authority in the Middle Ages." - de Hamel

Language: English


Last update January 4, 2022