Author

Herman Pleij

Herman Pleij (b. 1943) is an emeritus professor of medieval literature at the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses mainly on the cultural history of literature, the development of commonplace morality and the formation of Dutch identities in general. Previous titles include the bestselling The Guild of the Blue Barge (1979), Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life (1997), Colors Demonic and Divine: Shades of Meaning in the Middle Ages (2002) and Moet kunnen: In Search of the Dutch Identity (2014). Various works have been translated into English, Chinese, Arabic, Hungarian and Lithuanian.

Dreaming of Cockaigne

Dreaming of Cockaigne

Middeleeuwse fantasie├źn over het volmaakte leven

(Prometheus, 1997, 544 pages)

In the Middle Ages Cockaigne was the lost paradise, a land of plenty which existed somewhere on earth. Wine and beer flowed through the countryside, food could be gathered from the ground, everything belonged to everyone, the weather was always beautiful, all got what they wanted and stayed forever young. This lost paradise is continually evoked in medieval literature; stories about it were passed on from generation to generation and new variants developed over time and in different regions.

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Colors Demonic and Divine

Colors Demonic and Divine

Over kleuren van de Middeleeuwen en daarna

(Prometheus, 2002, 171 pages)

Contrary to the drab images of the period popularized in the media today, parades of vibrant color were on display at every level of Medieval European society. Not only did clothing sport gaudy and often clashing colors, but food, statues, animals, even hair and beards flaunted the most brazen hues. Yet not everyone revered color; many believed it to be an ephemeral, worldly deception and a sign of immorality.

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Exercises in Pleasure

Exercises in Pleasure

Love and Lust in the Late Middle Ages

(Prometheus, 2020, 435 pages)

For centuries, the church held the medieval body captive; temptations of the flesh were to be resisted and earthly urges mastered. Marriage was to serve reproduction and quell lust. Pleasure was out of the question. But in the 14th and 15th centuries, popular entertainment increasingly began to question those assumptions, unleashing nothing less than a sexual revolution. Turning to text, art and song, emeritus professor Herman Pleij brings the medieval imagination to life in all of its lewd and lascivious detail.

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