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The Axe and the Oath

by Lydia G. Cochrane Robert Fossier

In The Axe and the Oath, one of the world's leading medieval historians presents a compelling picture of daily life in the Middle Ages as it was experienced by ordinary people. Writing for general readers, Robert Fossier vividly describes how these vulnerable people confronted life, from birth to death, including childhood, marriage, work, sex, food, illness, religion, and the natural world. While most histories of the period focus on the ideas and actions of the few who wielded power and stress how different medieval people were from us, Fossier concentrates on the other nine-tenths of humanity in the period and concludes that "medieval man is us." Drawing on a broad range of evidence, Fossier describes how medieval men and women encountered, coped with, and understood the basic material facts of their lives. We learn how people related to agriculture, animals, the weather, the forest, and the sea; how they used alcohol and drugs; and how they buried their dead. But The Axe and the Oath is about much more than simply the material demands of life. We also learn how ordinary people experienced the social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of medieval life, from memory and imagination to writing and the Church. The result is a sweeping new vision of the Middle Ages that will entertain and enlighten readers.

The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

by Lydia G. Cochrane Rémi Brague

Modern interpreters have variously cast the Middle Ages as a benighted past from which the West had to evolve and, more recently, as the model for a potential future of intercultural dialogue and tolerance. The Legend of the Middle Ages cuts through such oversimplifications to reconstruct a complicated and philosophically rich period that remains deeply relevant to the contemporary world. Featuring a penetrating interview and sixteen essays--only three of which have previously appeared in English--this volume explores key intersections of medieval religion and philosophy. With characteristic erudition and insight, Rémi Brague focuses less on individual Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers than on their relationships with one another. Their disparate philosophical worlds, Brague shows, were grounded in different models of revelation that engendered divergent interpretations of the ancient Greek sources they held in common. So, despite striking similarities in their solutions for the philosophical problems they all faced, intellectuals in each theological tradition often viewed the others' ideas with skepticism, if not disdain. Such divisions, Brague contends, debunk notions that the medieval Mediterranean world was a European or Islamic cultural center in which different groups of people harmoniously mingled. His clear-eyed and revelatory portrayal of this misunderstood age brings to life not only its philosophical and theological nuances, but also its true lessons for our own time.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography

by Piero Melograni Lydia G. Cochrane

An engaging account of one of the most enduringly popular and celebrated composers to have ever lived, this book is both readable and scholarly, and grounded by a wealth of Mozart's correspondence. His substantial oeuvre contains works that are considered to be among the most exquisite pieces of symphonic, chamber, and choral music ever written. His operas too cast a long shadow over those staged in their wake. And since his untimely death in 1791, he remains an enigmatic figure -- the subject of fascination for aficionados and novices alike. Piero Melograni here offers a wholly readable account of Mozart's remarkable life and times. This masterful biography proceeds from the young Mozart's earliest years as a wunderkind -- the child prodigy who traveled with his family to perform concerts throughout Europe -- to his formative years in Vienna, where he fully absorbed the artistic and intellectual spirit of the Enlightenment, to his deathbed, his unfinished Requiem, and the mystery that still surrounds his burial. Melograni's deft use of Mozart's letters throughout confers authority and vitality to his recounting, and his expertise brings Mozart's eighteenth-century milieu evocatively to life. Written with a gifted historian's flair for narrative and unencumbered by specialized analyses of Mozart's music, Melograni's is the most vivid and enjoyable biography available. At a time when music lovers around the world are paying honor to Mozart and his legacy,Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be welcomed by his enthusiasts -- or anyone wishing to peer into the mind of one of the greatest composers ever known.

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