herbert grabes  the mutable glass

 The Mutable Glass. Mirror-imagery in titles and texts of the Middle Ages and the English Rernaissance  was the first major and comprehensive survey  of mirror-imagery to be found in medieval book-titles and  English Literature from the thirteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century. It is a 1982 translation of a German study first published in 1973, re-issued as a Paperback by Cambridge University Press in 2009.

       Working within the tradition of the historical study of metaphor developed by E.R. Curtius  and Hans Blumenberg, Herbert Grabes not only traces the shifting historical usages of the mirror (as the metaphor’s ‘vehicle’) but also studies the metaphor’s structural function in  individual works. At the same time, the author addresses himself to the aesthetic problem of originality in literature, and by investigating the function of a metaphor central to literature over a long period of time, he reveals the interplay between cultural history, the changing attitude towards life and the world, and literary imagination.

      A typology of mirror-titles provides useful categories for the presentation of the continuity of the mirror metaphor. The author ranges widely over English literature from the thirteenth to the end of the seventeenth century, referring g back to the writings of the Church Fathers and the literature of Antiquity, and drawing parallels with French and German literature. Originality in the use of the mirror metaphor is demonstrated in particular by English literature from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (especially in the work of Spenser, Shakespeare and Donne). Beyond this, the author shows that the transition from a change in the use of the same image (mirror) to the substitution of one central image for another (anatomy for mirror) corresponds to greater shifts in the whole conception of life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.     


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The Mutable Glass: Mirror-imagery in titles and texts of the Middle ...

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Professor Herbert Grabes

Department of English / JLU Gießen

Otto-Behaghel-Straße 10 B
35394 Giessen
Raum: B 332
Phone: +49 641 - 99 301 00 / -300 91 (Sekreteriat)
Fax: +49 641 - 99 300 99
E-Mail: Herbert.Grabes@anglistik.uni-giessen.de