Mundus et Infans

I was browsing through my old reading lists recently, and I came across the title Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray, and memories came flooding back.

This was the first book I read, I think, that got me started on my medieval obsession. I read that book so many times, I felt like I knew Adam as a best friend. I must have been around 10 when I first read it. I got it from the Brooklyn Public Library’s RIF (Reading is FUNdamental) program – is it any wonder I love public libraries so much?

And now I think of it, when we read the mystery plays in my undergrad early British lit survey class, I had the picture I’d created from this book in my mind! The scene of the “hue and cry” is at the back of my mind every time I read or hear that phrase. When we discussed hunting laws in our animals studies class a few weeks ago, I had a clear picture in my mind though I’d forgotten it came from this book.

Wow. I’m kind of blown away right now. I have to find my old copy.

Maybe the answer to that question I’ve been asked for years now lies here – why study medieval literature? I think this was the first “world” I was introduced to through reading that I recognized as different from my own in significant and fascinating ways.

I’d read favorites like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess before this book, I’d probably read Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna too by that point. But for all their differences in location and time from my own life, they were still familiar. Adam lives in circumstances so far removed from my own, and yet I still felt his despair, hope, joy, love…

I thought I’d stumbled across something significant when I remembered Adam, but just writing this post has opened floodgates into how I came to this place right here in my academic work.

And since I plan on doing work on both medieval literature and children’s literature, both together and separately, I’m definitely going to try to work Adam into it somewhere!


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