Arts of DyingLiterature and Finitude in Medieval England

Arts of DyingLiterature and Finitude in Medieval England

D. Vance Smith

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226640853

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book argues that the problem of how to designate death produces a long tradition of literature about dying in Old and Middle English, a literature that intensively and self-reflexively imagines how the very terms of literature might solve the problem of the termination of life. The book ranges between close readings of literature’s attempts to imagine a relation with death in major poets like Geoffrey Chaucer and the Pearl­­ poet, and philosophical attempts to designate death despite its impossibility: the relation between finitude and form. The book also explores the relation between crypt and archive, the philosophy of language and logic, and contemporary theorizing about death and dying, from Martin Heidegger to Maurice Blanchot and Gillian Rose.