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Middle Dutch Literature as a Mirror of European Culture
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Middle Dutch Literature as a Mirror of European Culture

(Frits van Oostrom) The Low Countries - 1994, № 2, pp. 70-80

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The literature of the Middle Ages is a truly European literature, probably much more so than the literature of today. Paradoxically, the main reason for this was the omnipresence of a language and a literature which were not a natural environment for anyone in Medieval Europe. A situation the Esperanto movement could not even dream of — when was the last serious plea made for the implementation of their ideal in Europe? — actually existed in the Middle Ages. Common schooling in a language which was foreign to everyone, Latin, and the fact that this language was the universal medium of intellectual communication, gave medieval culture a far-reaching unity. Dutch medieval literature, like its counterparts elsewhere, provides ample evidence of this fundamental medieval cultural unity. Hence, the author makes a case for Middle Dutch literature as an exemplary mirror of European culture.

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