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University of Arizona, Tucson, USA


This paper demonstrates how much the forest was used by medieval writers as a symbolic space where critical events take place deeply affecting their protagonists. The forest motif can be found in the works of St. Augustine as well as in Dante’s Divina Commedia (ca. 1308-1321), and then in a plethora of other texts. Here the author examines more closely the symbolic meaning of the forest as a mysterious, dangerous, yet also spiritual location in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Titurel (ca. 1220) and then in two 15th-century prose novels: Thüring von Ringoltingen’s Melusine (1456) and the anonymous Fortunatus (1509). Each time we recognize how much the poets placed their central figures one in the forest where their life takes a major turn. Recognizing this intriguing function of the forest as a metaphor and symbol, we can employ the modern interest in and fascination with the forest as a refuge from the destruction of the natural environment through modern civilization as segue to attract students to the study of medieval literature once again. 


forest as symbol, St. Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Thüring von Ringoltingen, Fortunatus, relevance of medieval literature

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