Medievalism in the Plague Year

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Detail from Hieronymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights, in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.
  • Find consolation in Boethius, De consolatione Philosophiae. He, too, wanted his library back.
  • Reassure ourselves with Julian of Norwich.
  • Use Piers Plowman as a mirror for the commons and a tool for collective action.
  • Contemplate Petrarch’s Canzoniere, or Rime sparse, or 365 days of not getting laid.
  • Misery bond with the protagonists of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, who are confined inside the city walls.
  • Take grim satisfaction in the description of Saturn in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale.
  • Reread the prologue to Boccaccio’s Decameron as a mirror for self-quarantine. Then read the tales as a means of escape.
  • Commune with your God, who is also your gay lover, in Ramon Llull’s Llibre d’Amic e Amat. Read a metaphor every day of the year.
  • Try the home remedies of Hildegard of Bingen or those enumerated in the Trotula.
  • Stay under house arrest with Charles d’Orléans.
  • Hope and pray we won’t be grieving with the Pearl Poet.
  • Remember, with Deor, “Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg.” This too shall pass.

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