Monsters and Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts

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by Alixe Bovey

The margins of medieval manuscripts teem with sirens, satyrs, griffins, unicorns, dragons, and other bizarre creatures. Commonplace animals are twisted together in impossible combinations, and human bodies are merged with animal forms in ways that are often both comic and ghastly. Images of these monstrosities pervade art and culture in the Middle Ages, and for medieval people they must have been a tantalizing suggestion of unknown worlds and unthinkable dangers. But what were they doing there? Were they meaningless distractions, or did these strange beasts have other symbolic meanings? Alixe Bovey's thoroughly readable text explains the meaning of these monsters and their place in medieval art.

64 pages
Published 2002