Medieval Literature Challenge

I'm going to take another shot at a medieval challenge. This one is hosted by JNCL at The Beauty of Eclecticism. Here are the rules:

Join with us in challenging ourselves to read some of those incredibly famous books that few of us have ever actually read, the bright sparks in the midst of the "Dark Ages". Choose 12 books off the approved reading list--an average of one per month for the year, though you can read them in whatever increments you like. Out of the ten genres of books available, your choices must cover at least four. Put the challenge button on your site with the code located in the right sidebar, sign up on the initial link that is located at the bottom of this page, and come back to link up a new review on the last day of each month. The challenge will run from January 1-December 31, 2012, and only books read within that time frame may be counted.

By popular demand, the challenge now has three levels:

Inferno--at least 4 books, to meet the requirement of reading from at least four different genres
Purgatorio--a minimum of 8 books
Paradiso--12 books, an average of one for each month of the year

Whichever level you choose, at least half of your chosen books must come from the master list given below, and all must fall into one of the given genres.

In order to truly challenge ourselves, we are NOT reading fiction set in the Middle Ages, books by modern experts on the Middle Ages, or biographies of major figures from the Middle Ages. Sorry, the latest account of that daring temptress, Eleanor of Aquitaine, will not count for this challenge, nor will a Philippa Gregory novel. We are reading works written between the rather arbitrarily chosen dates of 400-1550 CE (chosen by me, because nobody can really seem to decide what the exact Medieval dates are). We are, however, reading them IN TRANSLATION! Believe me, I won't be tackling any of the originals! Please feel free to double dip this challenge with any others where there is overlap, especially my own "Read Your OWN Library!"

The host has chosen several categories and then selected titles for each category. Below are the ones I've chosen as possibilities, but that doesn't mean that I think I'm actually going to read all of these! I'm going to shoot for the Paradiso level (since no one wants to get stuck in Purgatory!)--but some of these are quite long, so we'll see. I do already own a bunch of them; at least they'll count for Mount TBR.

The Romance of the Rose, by Guillaume de Lorris

The Life of Columba, by St. Adamnan of Iona

Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by the Venerable Bede
History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours
The Muqaddimah, by Ibn Khaldun

The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
Piers Plowman, by William Langland

The Consolations of Philosophy, by Boethius
The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli

The Golden Legend, by Jacobus de Voraigne
Pastoral Care
, by Pope St. Gregory I the Great

Troilus and Cresidye, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion, by Chretien de Troyes

The Book of Beasts
On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres
, by Nicolaus Copernicus

The Travels of Marco Polo, by Rustichello da Pisa

The Alexiad of Anna Comnena
Revelations of Divine Love, by Julian of Norwich
Scivias, by Hildegard of Bingen


  1. Welcome! Boy, that's an ambitious list. I'll be interested to see which ones you finally settle on.

  2. No, I just took away the ones that I've already read or really don't want to read! Like I said, I don't expect to read them all. :)

    Thanks for hosting the challenge!

  3. If you're reading Romance of the Rose, you should read The Book of the City of Ladies, since Christine de Pizan wrote it in large part as a reply to the Romance of the Rose's depiction of women! :) And it's very readable and fun!

  4. Oo! I will definitely keep that in mind, Eva. Thanks for the tip!

  5. :) I just realised that I think this was my first comment on your blog, and it was a little bit bossy! lol I've just started reading medieval lit this year (in middle of The Decameron), so I have all the ardour of a new convert. ;) There's a v good chapter in Reading the Middle Ages about Romance of the Rose & the Pizan, if you want some background! I haven't actually read RotR yet...maybe I need to join this challenge.

  6. Yes, join up! :) I guess I have to go find this Reading the Middle Ages book, maybe that can be Christmas break reading. I've been a medieval addict for a long time, but my knowledge is patchy. :)


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