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A midsummer eve's dream : variations on a theme by William Dunbar

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: A midsummer eve's dream : variations on a theme by William Dunbar
Author(s): Hope, A. D.
Date published: 1970
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
Description: 
What kind of people lived in Scotland in the Middle Ages? The author has some surprising answers to this question, one of the many he found himself contemplating when he decided to look into the background of 'The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo' by the fifteenth century Scottish poet, William Dunbar. The poem concerns three lovely women, discovered conversing in a grove on Midsummer Eve. Two are dissatisfied with their husbands, the third dispenses outspoken advice on the way sensible women should regard the institution of marriage. Hope wanted to reconstruct the background to this entertaining and splendidly written piece, and his research led him along a number of intriguing paths. The fairy cult in Britain, and particularly in medieval Scotland, had a special fascination for him, as did the unusual sexual customs of the Scots. Both subjects are important in the elucidation of Dunbar's poem: perhaps the ladies are fairies, or related to the goddesses of the early Celts; perhaps they are ordinary Edinburgh housewives. The book is a piece of serious scholarship - with a difference. It was written, as the author says, for the sheer pleasure of following up odd pieces of information, and the chief aim of this tapestry of folklore, history, philosophy, and literature is to entertain.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/114849

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