Saturday, April 05, 2008

Interesting new titles

A few books have caught my attention in the past week or so. I've already mentioned Smoke in the Sanctuary a work of liturgical fiction -- which I'm now three chapters through and am quite enjoying incidentally.

I also came across this offering also available through Southwell Books:

The English Reformation: From Tragic Reality to Dramatic Representation
Peter Milward, SJ

In order to understand England today, it is necessary to understand the Reformation. No other event in the last millennium has caused such a sharp historical rupture. Henry VIII’s break from Rome and the espousal of Protestant ideas under Edward VI and Elizabeth I caused a shift on the intellectual and artistic levels, and in every aspect of ordinary life. Once the Reformation had established itself, both Protestants and the Catholics who opposed them would view their world in a new, utterly different light.

This book explores the ways in which the Reformation left its mark on England in those turbulent years of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It shows how the Reformation grew from being a political issue about the King’s divorce to one which affected the whole fabric of society. It then looks at how the impact of the turmoil found expression in Renaissance drama, and in particular in the plays of Shakespeare. With Shakespeare we have the supreme expression – though not always explicit – of the values of Elizabethan England, and by examining his plays we can discover depicted in them many of the effects wrought by the changes of the Reformation. By considering the implicit stories told by the literature of the period as well as by the historical record, Peter Milward gives a full and rounded assessment of how the Reformation re-shaped England.

Another interesting title comes from Boydell and Brewer:

Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches
Roger Rosewell

Wall paintings are a unique art form, complementing, and yet distinctly separate from, other religious imagery in churches. Unlike carvings, or stained glass windows, their support was the structure itself, with the artist's `canvas' the very stone and plaster of the church. They were also monumental, often larger than life-size images for public audiences. Notwithstanding their dissimilarity from other religious art, wall paintings were also an integral part of church interiors, enhancing devotional imagery and inspiring faith and commitment in their own right, and providing an artistic setting for the church's sacred rituals and public ceremonies.

This book brings together, often for the first time, many of the very best surviving examples of medieval church wall paintings. Using new technologies and many previously untried techniques, it allows us to visualize these images as the artists originally intended. The plates are accompanied by an authoritative and scholarly text, bringing the imagery and iconography of the medieval church vividly to life.

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