Reflecting the place of the Bible as the bedrock of medieval culture, biblical imagery was ubiquitous in medieval England, yet it has not hitherto been the subject of a comprehensive modern monograph. Such precedents as there were – notably M. R. James’s The Apocalypse in Art (London: British Academy, 1931) and F. Wormald’s ‘Bible Illustration in Medieval Manuscripts’, in G. W. H.
Throughout my reading of Professor Parry’s new book I was distracted by a low, angry, buzzing noise. On reflection, I realized it was the sound of Hugh Trevor-Roper spinning in his grave. The scale of the chasm between the two authors can scarcely be exaggerated.
Karen Overbey’s monograph is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the weighty collection of (predominantly antiquarian) archaeo- / art-historical studies focusing on medieval Irish relics and reliquaries, a healthy proportion of which is judiciously consolidated and summarised throughout the book.
As this book begins (p. 1), the author marvels how the art of the Wycliffite Bible, one of the most popular books in late medieval England, has not been studied systematically. The answer lies in the historiography of the Wycliffite Bible. Kennedy suggests that the ‘Shadow of the Reformation’ has created a binary view of Wycliffite Bibles, linking them to heresy and illegality.
‘The English Reformation has not ended’, concludes Memory and the English Reformation’s introduction. ‘Continually refought in memory and the imagination, the battles it began will never be over’ (p.45). Through memory studies, this volume nudges the very worn question of England’s long Reformation(s) in a revitalising direction.