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Reading Literature

  • Tibor Fabiny

Abstract

This short poem from Alan of Lille from the twelfth century illustrates very well the figurative view of reality characteristic of the medieval period. In Chapter 4 we looked at the principle of ‘pictura quasi scriptura’ which implies that ‘picture’ can be conceived of as a figuration and thus a fulfilment or completion, of ‘Scripture’. By exploring this principle we hoped to gain some sort of biblical justification for the visual arts in opposition to such extreme iconoclastic views inherent in the antivisual prejudice. This short poem takes us a step further, inviting us to extend the idea of biblical figuration. Alan’s song perceives the whole created world ‘quasi liber et pictura’. This involves the notion that the whole world — including nature and history, as well as the human individual — constitutes God’s grand design. Each item of the created world is a sign pointing to the Creator: in semiotic terms, God is the ‘signifier’ and the world the ‘signified’. Gabriel Josipovici in a seminal essay on ‘The World as a Book’ quotes Hugh of St Victor:

For this whole world is a book written by the finger of God, that is, created by divine power; and individual creatures are as figures therein not devised by human will but instituted by divine authority to show forth the invisible things of God.2

Keywords

Reading Literature Biblical Text Typological Structure Figurative Interpretation Figurative Reading 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
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Copyright information

© Tibor Fabiny 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tibor Fabiny
    • 1
  1. 1.Attila Jozsef UniversityHungary

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