From King Arthur and the Round Table to Alexander the Great's global conquests, the stories of romance appear in some of the most beautiful books of the Middle Ages, and still resonate today. This book provides an engaging, scholarly and richly illustrated guide to medieval romance and its continuing influence on literature and art. Romance's conjunctions of chivalric violence, love and piety, and its openness to the miraculous, monstrous or bizarre mark it out as the most fertile narrative form of the Western Middle Ages. This book examines the development of romance as a literary genre, its place in medieval culture, and the scribes and readers who copied, owned and commented on romance books - from magnificent illuminated manuscripts to personal notebooks and chance survivals. It also explores the complex anatomy of human desire in romance, as portrayed by writers including Dante, Chaucer and Thomas Malory. Medieval romance was hugely popular after the Middle Ages. Shakespeare, Spenser and Walter Scott imbibed its motifs, Mark Twain parodied them, and the Pre-Raphaelites based an aesthetic movement around them.
The Romance of the Middle Ages traces the influence of the genre to the twentieth century and beyond, encompassing the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling, the Jedi knights of Star Wars and Monty Python's Knights who say 'Ni!'.