Introducing the Medieval Dragon

Author(s) Thomas Honegger

Language: English

Genre(s): Medieval

Series: Medieval Animals

  • August 2019 · 144 pages ·198x129mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786834683
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786834690
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786834706

About The Book

The aim of this book is to explore the characteristics of the medieval dragon and discuss the sometimes differing views found in the relevant medieval text types. Based on an intimate knowledge of the primary texts, the study presents new interpretations of well-known literary works, and also takes into consideration paintings and other depictions of these beasts. Dragons were designed not only to frighten but also to fire the imagination, and provide a suitably huge and evil creature for the hero to overcome – yet there is far more to them than reptilian adversaries. This book introduces the medieval dragon via brief, accurate and clear chapters on its natural history, religion, literature and folklore, and concludes with how the dragon – from Beowulf to Tolkien, Disney and Potter – is constantly revived.


‘This study of the medieval dragon not only provides a detailed examination of the perceived threats to medieval society, but also more broadly sheds telling light on the very nature of medieval culture. Superbly well researched yet also highly accessible, this is scholarship at its best.’
-Dr Martin Arnold, Reader Emeritus, University of Hull

‘A pithy introduction to the weird and wonderful world of medieval dragon lore. Honegger emphasises the diversity and cultural specificity of these fascinating creatures, while also attending to their durability and near universality as symbols. Ranging from literature and learned writings to religious art and folklore, the book is as rich and multifaceted as its subject.’
-Robert Mills, Professor of Medieval Studies, University College London

'One of the strongest qualities of Introducing the Medieval Dragon is it accessibility: it is a scholarly book but written in a very appealing way, which shows in a very direct and concise way the complexity of medieval culture and imagination. It could be argued that the tone of this book is a perfect result from this understanding of yours that Tolkien’s fiction has the energy to draw and enlighten students into the knowledge and understanding of the Middle Ages. The content of the book is rigorous yet presented in a fully relatable way, and this stirs an enthusiastic curiosity in the reader, who feels encouraged to learn more, to read the medieval literary works mentioned in it, becomes curious to look for dragon images in bestiaries and other medieval books…'
- Alicia Guerrero Yeste, un trabajo tartamudo. Read the full interview here

'This concise & useful study introduces & examines characteristics of medieval dragons in a range of different contexts. This is a useful, scholarly, and charmingly illustrated book.'
- Review in Folklore

'The illustrations peppered throughout were gorgeous and the inclusion of the Old English text above the modern translation was a very nice touch. Being slim, well-researched, and succinct this book was exactly the introduction that it set out to be. Based upon this book, I believe that the series could be a valuable resource for the layperson interested in attaining a better understanding of the Medieval Mind, and how modern works continue to build and grow from the foundation set all those many centuries ago.'
- Review by Hilary Wilson on the Folklore Podcast. Full review here


List of illustrations
The Dragon and Medieval Scholarship
The Dragon and Medieval Religion
The Medieval Dragon and Folklore
The Dragon and Medieval Literature
Outlook and Conclusion
Further reading

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Thomas Honegger

Thomas Honegger is Professor for English Medieval Studies at the Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena (Germany), and has published on animals, on medieval romance and on the work of the late medievalist Professor J. R. R. Tolkien.

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