Conferencistas convidados · Ponentes
Jakov Đordevic, University of Belgrade
Die, Pray, Love: Taking the Salvational Journey through the Office of the Dead in the Très Riches Heures with Help of its Macabre Imagery
To understand medieval illuminated page means to track down the wandering gaze of its original beholder. Many layers of meaning with different messages could be revealed by the skilful eye in a single leaf of a manuscript, yet even more so in a partition of the book that was supposed to be considered as undividable unite. Certain kind of “difficulty” in acquiring knowledge was expected of the medieval reader/viewer while he was piercing through the illustrated book, even though the process itself was enjoyable and thrilling. Especially when it comes to devotional literature, the illuminated stories offered particular intense experiences to the beholder who was invited to project himself among the lavish pages, and find the “happy ending” aided by the accompanied text and often quite imaginative contemplation.
The aim of this paper is to explore the boundaries and potentials of these performative processes through examination of the Office of the Dead in the illustrious Très Riches Heures. Special emphasis will be placed on its macabre imagery, without which, it will be argued, the salvational massage would not have been transmitted to the wondering gaze of the manuscript’s original owner. In order to fully comprehend this journey, which led its pious traveler between elaborate images and Latin verses of well known texts, one has to consider it in the context of late medieval laic piety that was merged with many not so orthodox practices and beliefs. Therefore, the performativity of the Très Riches Heures will be also examined through the lens of dynamic culture of later Middle Ages, where ideas were not only appropriated across great distances, but among different intellectual milieus as well.