The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism accompanies an exhibition of the same name held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1980 81. Toward the end of Middle Ages, all aspects of life had become so steeped in an atmosphere of deep religiosity that no object or incident, no idea or action could escape religious interpretation. A state of tension grew, as J. Huizinga observed, in which "all that is meant to stimulate spiritual consciouness is reduced to appalling commonplace profanity, to a startling worldliness in otherwordly guise." Concepts generated by faith tended to be seized upon and externalized in a naive and literal fashion, and thus abstractions became rendered as concrete realities. Holy and profane thought were constantly intermingled. The ordinary was transmuted to the sacred and the scared to the commonplace with such consistency that any real distinction between religious and secular thought virtually disappeared. Nothing better demonstrates this phenomenon than the myth of the medieval wild man.
The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism offers a valuable examination of an idea together with its imagery: one of the most delightful and fascinating inventions of the medieval imagination the hairy, primitive, woodland creature who at first embodied the evil that medieval man feared, then, as the old order declined, became the object of his envy, the embodiment of ideal freedom. By focusing on the wild man’s evolution in art, a range of life in the Medieval era is presented. With the assistance of Gloria Gilmore-House, Timothy Husband analyzes the many roles and guises the wild man took, and his symbolic significance. Following this introduction is a section of color plates and catalogue entries for all the objects, which include illuminated manuscripts, drawings, woodcuts, tapestries, and precious objects made of metals, ivory, and wood. There are also works cited and works consulted sections. [This book was originally published in 1980 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]
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