January 3, 2015
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.4 Pounds (US)
$65.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Cosmas of Prague

Narrative, Classicism, Politics

Cosmas of Prague: Narrative, Classicism, Politics models new ways to study medieval historical writing. It analyzes the oldest history of a Slavic people written by a Slav, the Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague. Some scholars read Cosmas as a mere annalist, others as a fanciful narrator only partially reliable as a source of historical data, and still others as a panegyrist of the Přemyslid dynasty and an exponent of Czech national identity. However, close reading of his text reveals Cosmas to be a fierce critic of the prevailing political order, indeed of all political orders per se. Rather than apologizing for or pandering to the dukes of Bohemia, Cosmas holds before them and their magnates a harsh mirror in which their deplorable deeds are exposed; yet by this very act he exhorts them to change, and thus to work for the broader benefit of the community instead of for petty, personal gain. Recovering this vision of contemporary Czech society requires doing justice to Cosmas's craftsmanship: it means holding his text up to a prism, rotating and continually re-reading his vibrant prose through a series of different faces - gender, narrative, mythmaking, classicism, territory, power. The result is the first work to treat Cosmas's text on its own terms. It finds that the wisdom of the ancient past proved directly and immediately relevant to the politics of the medieval present.

About the Author

Lisa Wolverton is associate professor in the Department of History, University of Oregon.


"For those interested in early Czech history and the process of writing chronicles. Summing up: recommended"—W. L. Urban, CHOICE

"This monograph is the fruit of years of engagement with Cosmas' text, previously translated by the author, Lisa Wolverton. It is a deep reading of the entire Chronicle, striving to penetrate the narrative strategies, authorial intentions, and ultimate message of the work. It will doubtless be the key point of reference for anyone using Cosmas' text; it also stands as a strong argument in favour of a holistic approach to medieval narrative texts in general. The introduction provides guidance to the reader on the life and times of Cosmas... On the whole, the book is eloquent testimony to Wolverton's thorough knowledge of the text, careful reading, and willingness to engage with the entirety of the Chronicle."—Nora Berend, Univ Cambridge, English Historical Review

"the text is accessible and easily comprehensible the author has been engaged in exemplary scholarship, against which she now situates her now monograph."—Jan Klapste, Charles Univ, Speculum

"This book continues Lisa Wolverton's study of Cosmas of Prague and demonstrates the intimate familiarity she has developed with Cosmas over the course of reading, using, and translating his work."—Christian Raffensperger, Wittenberg Univ, American Historical Review

"Brings an important medieval, central European historian to the attention of an English speaking public . . . will be important for scholars of medieval historiography."—Jeff Rider, Wesleyan University

The Catholic University of America Press

9780813226910 : cosmas-of-prague-lisa
328 Pages
$65.00 USD

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