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European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In this "magnificant book" (T.S. Eliot), Ernst Robert Curtius (1886-1956), one of the foremost literary scholars of this century, examines the continuity of European literature from Homer to Goethe, with particular emphasis on the Latin Middle Ages. In an extensive new epilogue, drawing on hitherto unpublished material, Peter Godman, Professor of Medieval Latin at the Univ ...more
Paperback, Updated Edition, 736 pages
Published February 21st 1991 by Princeton University Press (first published 1948)
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4.37  · 
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 ·  125 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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B. Hawk
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, latin
At the heart of this project, Curtius establishes three main currents: first, to demonstrate the centrality of the Middle Ages to European literature and culture; second, to establish the importance and study of medieval Latin literature; and, third, underlying the other two, to "[attack] the barbarization of education and the nationalistic frenzy... of the Nazi regime" (Curtius's "Forward to the English Translation," vii). In all of these, Curtius achieves his goals. While Latin rhetoric rests ...more
Isabel Su
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
After read this book, believe it's rightly for me to study comparative literature.
Michael Stapleton
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don’t think anyone could be educated well enough today to write a book like this.
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this was one of the most important books when I studied.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I assume that most people who know Curtius will have read the topoi-chapter torn out of context, in the same way that most people who know Auerbach's Mimesis will have read the chapter on Odysseus and the Old Testament, but not much further. I'm afraid to sound snobbish, completist and elitist, but these two, along with Frank Kermode's The Sense of an Ending, form a holy trinity of sorts in Western literary criticism in the twentieth century, and they cannot be understood in fragments that have ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
"As we have already indicated, no stretch of European literary history is so little known and frequented as the Latin literature of the early and high Middle Ages. And yet the historical view of Europe makes it clear that precisely this stretch occupies a key situation as the connecting link between declining Antiquity and the Western world which was so very slowly taking shape. But it is cultivated - under the name of 'medieval Latin philology' - by a very small number of specialists. In Europe ...more
Matthew Dambro
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The seminal work on Latin philology in the mid-20th Century. Incredibly detailed and learned survey of the use of language from late Antiquity through the 18th Century. Although done in the German style of Geschicte, Curtius was in fact a Francophile. During the Hitler era he was forced to move back to medieval studies to avoid the attention of the Gestapo. His thesis is somewhat dated; that all medieval literature is a continuation of Roman topos. It was at the forefront of research in the earl ...more
Fred R
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Like Auerbach's Mimesis, an impossibly learned history of Western literature from a German horrified at the continent's mid-20th century convulsions. This would have benefited from some stronger organizing principle than a basic desire to demonstrate the cultural unity and continuity of the 'nordic-mediterranean' west.

I was surprised to see that France, rather than Germany, receives the strongest criticisms for its cultural imperialism.
David Bird
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an incredibly learned one, such that one hesitates to criticize, and yet, I have basic qualms about the premise that the most important part of literature is proving that no idea is new, that there was always somebody earlier who had it.
Ak Hauck
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An almost perfect book! The breadth and width of literary history is stunning. A must read for those interested in classical and/or medieval literature. This is one I will read again and again.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Good first step in the study of romance languages.
Elizabeth Pyjov
literature is “a reservoir of spiritual energies through which we can flavour and ennoble our present-day life”
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Ernst Robert Curtius was a German literary scholar, a philologist and Romance language literary critic. He is best known for his 1948 work Europäische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter.