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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

18 - Latin and Vernacular Literature


The twelfth-century Renaissance eluded the English language, which came last in the triad of languages that were commonly used in England; but the century left an ample deposit in Anglo-Norman French and Latin literature. To understand the linguistic and cultural situations in twelfth-century Europe entails examining relationships not only between Latin and vernaculars but also among various vernaculars. Some vernacular literatures have vanished forever, like stones hurled into a deep lake. To recover the contours of these lost literatures, it is necessary to consider the ripples they left in the literature that does survive, namely, the Latin literature. It is not surprising that the literature of the greater twelfth century has played a pivotal role in revivals of interest in the middle ages, and it is probable that it will continue to attract well-deserved attention, even as neglected later and earlier centuries receive more of their due.

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