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Solomon and Marcolf [Paperback]

Jan M. Ziolkowski

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Book Description

Nov. 30 2008 Harvard Studies in Medieval Latin (Book 1)

Solomon and Marcolf is known for being both important and mysterious. It pits wise Solomon, famous from the Bible, against a wily peasant named Marcolf. One of its two parts is a dialogue, in which the king and jester, sage and fool, prophet and blasphemer bandy back and forth questions and comments. Whereas Solomon is solemn and pompous, Marcolf resorts to low language and earthy topics. The other part comprises twenty short chapters in which Marcolf tricks Solomon time and again. These episodes are as impudent and scatological as is the dialogue. Together, the two parts constitute a rudimental prose novel or “rogue biography.”

Cited by Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World, Solomon and Marcolf is widely known by name. But until now it has not been translated into any modern language. The present volume offers an introduction, followed by the Latin and English, detailed commentary, and reproductions of woodcut illustrations from the 1514 edition. Appendixes help readers understand the origins and influence of a work that was composed around 1200, that attained its greatest popularity in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and that has the potential still today to delight and instruct.


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About the Author

Jan Ziolkowski is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin, Harvard University, and the Director of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Monumental Edition of a Smutty Work Nov. 10 2008
By Steven Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This brief proto-novel is given the full scholarly treatment in this critical edition; imagine a 450-page book devoted to one episode of "South Park." There's an English translation with the Latin on facing pages, and a wealth of commentary. S&M is a coarse, scatological work, but it underscores the fact that prose fiction has always been a rebellious, subversive genre.

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