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The Riddle of Recognition

The Riddle of Recognition

(p.108) 5 The Riddle of Recognition
Animal Skins and the Reading Self in Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries
Sarah Kay
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses the distinction between a readily observable similarity and one that requires effort to divine; both are invoked by bestiaries, but allegory particularly underlines the value of a likeness that is not immediately given. Starting from the idea that man was made in God’s “image and likeness” (Genesis), the chapter also uses Aristotle’s account of metaphor as disclosing a really existing but not self-evident likeness to illumine the working of bestiary allegory. It charts a historical development from attention to the likeness between creatures and creator in earlier bestiaries, to interest in mapping resemblance between one creature and another in later ones. Resemblance between humanity and the rest of nature underpins theories of microcosm and macrocosm found in the Long Version of Pierre de Beauvais and the Dicta Chrysostomi manuscript Munich, BSB clm 2655. Among creatures discussed are the Caladrius, Tiger, and Harpy; other bestiary versions include the H bestiary and some famous Second-family manuscripts. Throughout, the reading process is shown to be affected by potential interactions between reader, text, image, and page.

Keywords:   allegory, Aristotle, likeness, caladrius, tiger, harpy, Long Version of Pierre de Beauvais, Microcosm, Munich BSB clm 2655, macrocosm

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