In this ground-breaking work, Norman Cantor explains how our current notion of the Middle Ages—with its vivid images of wars, tournaments, plagues, saints and kings, knights and ladies—was born in the 20th century. The medieval world was not simply excavated through systematic research. It had to be conceptually created: it had to be invented, and this is the story of that invention.
Cantor focuses on the lives and works of twenty of the great medievalists of this century, demonstrating how the events of their lives, and their spiritual and emotional outlooks, influenced their interpretations of the Middle Ages. He makes their scholarship an intensely personal and passionate exercise, full of color and controversy, displaying the strong personalities and creative minds that brought new insights about the past.
This is a side of scholarship you rarely hear about, the study of those who are studying the histories and putting them together. I find a book like this to be invaluable to any level of historical curiosity because it paints a completely new understanding of how our knowledge of history is informed. What we know, what we think we know, and how we got to either of those types of conclusions is now completely under the microscope for us. From this we get new answers, and thusly, new questions. It makes the study of history that much richer, especially for those of us who don't have much insight into the world of the historian. This book is probably a bit much for the generally curious, but for the most scholarly-oriented, this one's a winner.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about Inventing the Middle Ages? What did you like least?
The narrator sounds utterly BORED. He drops pauses into the reading at weird times, so that the sentences don't make sense, and after you hear him do this about a hundred times (and I'm only on chapter 4) you realize it's because he's just mindlessly reading and paying no attention to what it says.
Couldn't they find someone who had even a mild interest in the subject, so that his mind wouldn't wander off and take the listener with it? I mean, this was a full price book, not a bargain basement volume. And while I'm on the subject - why choose a reader with a pompous art-gallery British accent so extreme that it sounds faked? To read a book written by an AMERICAN professor? A book that is mainly about Europe, not Britain?
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
the late David Case's (Frederick Davidson) snooty English lisp is pitch perfect for this historiography. You will a bit about medieval history but only tangentially. This is a series of biographies of great medievalists from Maitland to the 1970s. Combine it with Civilization of the Middle Ages and you are all set.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Norman F. Cantor and/or Frederick Davidson?
What do you think your next listen will be?
not this one
How did the narrator detract from the book?
Problem was the book was more of a PHD studu than a book of the subject. The narrator only too it more off course
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Inventing the Middle Ages?
Any additional comments?
This is an intellectual book on the study of the subject, not the subject. Shame because there have been very few good books on the broad european middle ages.
2 of 8 people found this review helpful