Siege of Jerusalem

Siege of Jerusalem

Siege of Jerusalem. Ed. Michael Livingston. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004. [Available for free online.]

From the Introduction:

The alliterative Siege of Jerusalem dates from the end of the fourteenth century, depicting the historical destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 by the Roman generals (and future emperors) Titus and Vespasian. The poem is extraordinarily graphic in its depiction of this event — at times bordering on what Dorothy Everett calls a “ghoulish relish for the horrible,” combined with what A. C. Spearing describes as a deep anti-Semitic strain that leads to “horrible delight in the suffering of the Jews.” Such features of the poem have helped to marginalize it from the more “happy” literary canon of the period. These twin problems of violence and intolerance understandably make modern readers uneasy. But the poem has merits both as a literary undertaking and as a significant historical document that warrant careful consideration.

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Review:

The Medieval Review:

The medieval community needs and is hungrily receiving this classroom, reader-friendly edition of SJ and is willing to address the problems of presenting it and of confronting the cultural issues (both historical and contemporary) that it is inevitable embroiled in, despite the inherent dangers of doing so (so famously expressed in Hanna’s characterization of the poem as a “chocolate-covered tarantula”).

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