The dream city in medieval literature, or urban imagination: the case of the anonymous Herzog Ernst (ca. 1170/ca. 1220), Konrad von Würzburg’s Partonopier und Meliur (ca. 1280), and Marco Polo’s Le Devisement du monde (ca. 1310)

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Abstract

Even though we tend to assume that the concept of a sophisticated and complex city belongs to one of the constitutive factors of the modern age (maybe since ca. 1600), we can recognise an entire discourse on the dream city beginning already in the late twelfth century and continuing throughout the centuries, as illustrated by the cases of Herzog Ernst, Konrad von Würzburg’s Partonopier und Meliur, and The Travels by Marco Polo. When Italo Calvino predicated his famous Invisible Cities on Marco Polo’s account, he might not have been aware of the broad and deep literary tradition. This article identifies the crucial components of this discourse and builds distinct bridges between the Middle Ages and modernity. As the analysis will demonstrate, the dream city was not simply a well-fortified town, but a relatively expansive city with many luxuries and pleasures for the inhabitants, at least within literary imaginations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-354
Number of pages19
JournalStudia Neophilologica
Volume91
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019

Keywords

  • City in medieval literature
  • Herzog Ernst
  • Konrad von Würzburg
  • Marco Polo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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