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The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela [Paperback]

William Melczer

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Book Description

Feb. 8 2009
"The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela" presents the first complete English translation of Book Five of the Liber Sancti Jacobi or Codex Calixtinus. This twelfth-century guidebook traces the route from southern France to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The medieval Christian world knew three major pilgrimage sites - Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela. Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries Santiago de Compostela was by far the most popular. Pilgrimage to Compostela was a once-in-a-lifetime human adventure. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came year after year through France and across the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela near the Atlantic shores of Galicia. In his study of the road to Santiago, Professor William Melczer discusses Relics and Pilgrimage The Origin of the Cult of St. James Myth and Historical Reality The Iter Sancti Jacobi The Liber Sancti Jacobi Pilgrimage without Ideology The Iconography of St. James. This book also includes extensive commentaries and notes that highlight historical, geographical, art-historical, hagiographic, and general cultural matters along the route traced by the Guide. Illustrated, introduction, gazetteer, hagiographical register, bibliography, index.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A readable translation with copious notes and background. Dec 22 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Melczer offers an academic work that is a very readable translation of the twelfth century Book Five of the Codex Calixtinus, together with substantial backgound notes and explanatory material. This, in spite of its academic overtones, is not a difficult read. I found it to be a very useful starting point and historical information base for our proposed pilgrimage.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book available about Santiago De Compostela July 11 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Melczer's book is a masterpiece. Anyone with an interest in Spain, the Middle Ages, or Santiago De Compostela simply must read this book! It is lively and highly readable, but it is underpinned by impeccable scholarship. It opens numerous windows on a forgotten world, and deserves the widest possible readership.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book by an Excellent Scholar March 14 2002
By Thomas V. Millington - Published on
I personally knew Mr. Melczer both as my instructor and later as a friend and I simply cannot say enough about this man. Studying in Spain with Mr. Melczer in 1990 I can say he truly opened my eyes to history, art and culture. I took copious notes, but I realized I could never fully "absorb" the knowledge that this man imparted to his students. He inspired me to enter the field I am in now.
This book is an excellent presentation of one of the most remarkable journeys traversed by so many people throughout history. The research is excellent and the reading is very clear. This book is a must for any person interested in Spanish history
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The authentic source for Camino legends Sept. 15 2004
By Timecheck - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When you are not sure of the details of any particular Camino miracle, you need go no further than William Melczer's guide. The Codex Calixtinus is the source of all those stories you read in the other English language books. Melczner's guide is the first complete English translation of Book Five of the Codex Calixtinus - the original medieval pilgrim's guide.

This is a scholarly, extremely well documented book. The entire book is 345 pages. Of this, the actual translated Codex is 50 pages. The introduction and notes demonstrate a through knowledge the medieval pilgrimages. The book includes a haigographical register and gazetteer as well as bibliograpy and index. I had to go to my unabridged dictionary to find out that haigography is the study of saints. The gazetteer contains a short explanation if each place name. Both the haigraphical index and the gazetteer are quite helpful when doing any Camino reading.

This is not a book I would carry with me, but certainly one that is enjoyed after doing the Camino. For those who have time, it supplements any historical reading one may do before the Camino.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend March 16 2007
By David York - Published on
DO NOT buy this book if you are looking for a modern guide to the Camino.

DO buy this book for a scholarly translation and background of the pilgrims who went before you on the Camino (the guide was written in approx. 1160 AD)! The large introduction is packed with detailed information about the history/legends of St. James and his tomb from the time of Christ through early Church fathers, early Spanish history, Islamic invasion and subsequent withdrawal, and the French connection. There is detailed history on pilgrim routes, what they wore, where they stayed, and more. A great read prior to walking the Camino!

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