Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 July 2019
Literary representations of climate come in a range of forms, informed as much by culture as by physical conditions. The interregional applicability of climate motifs has implications for their dissemination, as narratives relying on specific environmental variables may tend to spread less widely unless they are read as accounts of the exotic. This chapter introduces responses to climate in medieval European literature by examining one motif at either extreme of the universality spectrum. Icelandic prose responds to Iceland’s short growing season by rooting many of its feuds in tensions over natural resources, with a prominent role for hay as the island’s most productive crop. At the other extreme, homiletic accounts of end-time climate describe conditions beyond anyone’s experience but made universally relatable by way of an analogy between world history and human ageing.
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