Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art” as Want to Read:
Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  150 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
What do they all mean – the lascivious ape, autophagic dragons, pot-bellied heads, harp-playing asses, arse-kissing priests and somersaulting jongleurs to be found protruding from the edges of medieval buildings and in the margins of illuminated manuscripts? Michael Camille explores that riotous realm of marginal art, so often explained away as mere decoration or zany ...more
Paperback, Essays in Art and Culture, 176 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Reaktion Books (first published May 15th 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Image on the Edge, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Image on the Edge

A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. TuchmanThe Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian MortimerEleanor of Aquitaine by Alison WeirThe Plantagenets by Dan JonesThe Year 1000 by Robert Lacey
Best Medieval History Books
91st out of 466 books — 203 voters
Ways of Seeing by John BergerHistory of Beauty by Umberto EcoBrunelleschi's Dome by Ross KingThe Complete Paintings and Drawings by Leonardo da VinciA History of Illuminated Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel
The World History of Art
33rd out of 300 books — 90 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
John Carter McKnight
Oct 18, 2013 John Carter McKnight rated it really liked it
What a fascinating little book! Camille uses the marginal illustrations of medieval manuscripts as a window into a complex, alien world of medieval culture and its symbols.

A medievalist would gain much more from this book, but what struck me is just how foreign 12th-14th Century Europe was, in class composition, values, imagery. And yet, there are rich prospects here for the scholar of contemporary communications: echoes of trolling, selfies, gross-out humor, perversions indulged and condemned,
Nov 19, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
Gems in this book:

the etymology of baboon, from babeweyn, a deformed human in illustration

the fatrasie, a poetic form linking bits of psychic rubbish in strict versification, producing images reminiscent of Bosch

and grylli, human forms culminating in calligraphic tails.

If you want to revise your notion of the Middle Ages, this is a great place to begin!
Jul 31, 2016 Barb rated it really liked it
It's got to be hard to write a book about illuminated manuscripts, and even harder to write one about the little figures in the margins because the sheer beauty of the subject cannot be conveyed in smaller than life size figures in a modern book. Camille has done that admirably, however, all the while explaining how context (monastery, cathedral, city, or court) matters and how the margins define the center as much as the centers define the margin. Think there might be a lesson in there. Hmmm. ...more
I have read a lot of medieval history, both primary and secondary sources; dozens of articles and books about medieval European culture, religion and society; works concerning medieval cities, travel, literacy, monasticism, aristocracy, gender and art. I mention this only to provide context for my statement that Michael Camille writes perhaps the most enjoyable medieval history books I have ever read.* His books blend impeccable research with inventive prose and playful enthusiasm with ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Moloch rated it liked it
Recommended to Moloch by: Goodreads Recommendations
Un veloce testo, corredato da molte bellissime e spassosissime immagini, sui marginalia, ovvero quelle bizzarre figurette, che si incontrano nei margini delle pagine dei codici medievali (ma l'autore le analizza anche in architettura), che sembrano uscite da un folle mondo a rovescio: scimmie che mostrano il sedere, animali che si mordono la coda, mostri semiumani, coppie che copulano, uomini che fanno la cacca o le boccacce, ecc.

Interessante e sorprendente, per chi è abituato a pensare alla soc
Sam Hickey
As someone who, upon having their first experience with a real medieval manuscript was confounded when the title page had what appeared to be a projectile vomiting peacock doodled into the margins by some ancient monk, this book was very illuminating. This book offers a very interesting look at the meanings behind medieval artwork and structures, whilst also telling me what to make of the little half naked men on goats and vomiting peacocks which seemed to make a mockery of medieval manuscripts. ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, art
By the time I finished the introduction to this book I was already very sorry that the author was long deceased. It would have been a great pleasure to interview him, to hear more on his thoughts about high vs. low art, the creation of images, and the most skillfully drawn fart. This book was three of my favorite things: painstakingly researched, eloquently written, and full of butt jokes. What's not to love? I'll be writing about this soon.
Nov 12, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good because of the subject - what do all those seemingly random doodles on the margin mean? Why is a knight fighting a snail? Why is a giant head with two legs walking around? But it suffers in my reading from vaguely rambling and disorganized writing. I don't know why one section follows another. Still, it's short, and I don't know of any other books on this neat little subject, so it's a keeper.
Rather Dashing
May 28, 2012 Rather Dashing rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory, medievalism
A fun and insightful monograph on marginal art and architecture from the medieval period. Camille is often brilliant, occasionally irritating, but always lucid and thought-provoking. Didn't read like an academic monograph at all.
May 27, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book: clearly written, well researched, highly focused, and a good source for further study.
Mar 12, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction, class
This one was pretty neat too. The color plates are great. Had to read this one for a class, and would have appreciated the time to read it more thoroughly, but it was good nonetheless.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
An interesting look at marginal decoration, both at literal manuscript margins and decoration such as the carved decorations of misericords. Somewhat speculative.
Alex Mackenzie
Alex Mackenzie rated it liked it
Mar 16, 2010
Allison rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2013
Sarah rated it it was amazing
Jul 19, 2014
Lu Sargeant
Lu Sargeant rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2013
Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Jul 17, 2015
Kawakoala rated it it was amazing
May 24, 2010
Lorraine rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2011
Brian Kinkead
Brian Kinkead rated it really liked it
Oct 02, 2015
Chelsea Rae
Chelsea Rae rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2015
Thomas rated it it was amazing
Sep 30, 2015
Katherine Sedovic
Katherine Sedovic rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2015
Mohamed Lotfy
Mohamed Lotfy rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2016
Euphorium rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2012
Raychel Lillian
Raychel Lillian rated it it was ok
May 08, 2015
Regan rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2016
Rachel rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2008
Mzeheter rated it really liked it
Feb 13, 2013
Barb rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages
  • Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion
  • From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 - 1307
  • A History of Illuminated Manuscripts
  • Meaning in the Visual Arts
  • The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century
  • The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture
  • The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity
  • The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950 - 1250
  • Medieval Civilization 400-1500
  • The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology
  • The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy
  • Dante: Poet of the Secular World
  • The Age of the Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420
  • Classical Art: From Greece to Rome
  • The Medieval World Complete
  • Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style
  • Black: The History of a Color

Share This Book