Of Dragons, Knights, and Virgin Maidens
Sandra Martina Schwab
Of Dragons, Knights, and Virgin Maidens. Dragonslaying and gender roles from Richard Johnson to modern popular fiction
ISBN 978-3-86821-477-2, 386 S., kt., € 39,50 (2013)
(MUSE - Mainz University Studies in English, Bd. 16)
Dragons and other creatures of the imagination were frowned upon by the European Enlightenment with its focus on rational thought and empirical evidence. For decades they slumbered in archives and libraries or stole away to live in the literature of the common people – in folktales, chapbooks, and street ballads. From the mid-eighteenth century onwards, though, so-called folk literature garnered new interest, while at the time the appeal of medieval architecture and literature was rediscovered. The gothic revival eventually became a powerful torrent that affected many areas of culture and society. It not only led to a re-evaluation of medieval literature, but also to a processing of themes and motifs from medieval romances, fairy tales, and local legends in nineteenth-century art and literature. One narrative pattern which has remained popular with authors and artists since the Middle Ages is the heroic dragonslayer story. It appears in medieval literature, in neochivalric romances, in folk literature, fantasy fiction and popular romance, among others. As Schwab’s study will make apparent, the story of the dragonslayer has undergone significant transformations, many of which are connected to major social and cultural changes that took place within the last 400 years. Especially in regard to gender roles, the dragonslayer story can serve as an example of how art and literature mirror social actualities of their times.
Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)
"A fire-breathing creature bedecked in scales, a chivalrous man in shining armour, and a fair maiden in distress: it is a tale familiar to most readers. It is also, as Sandra Martina Schwab persuasively argues, a tale that has evolved to reflect key changes in society. Of Dragons, Knights, and Virgin Maidens highlights and investigates the link between the real world and the fictional realm of dragons; textual manipulation and evolution is key to that relationship."
Britta Hartmann, Literaturwissenschaftliches Jahrbuch 56 (2015)