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Document Details :
Title: De geletterde stad en de literatuur van de late Middeleeuwen
Author(s): PLEIJ, Herman
Journal: Spiegel der Letteren
Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Date: 2006
The medieval city shows itself to be obsessed by words. The streets are filled with the noise of the spoken and shouted word, while houses, churches and public buildings are covered with texts. What is more, human clothing and even shoes bear words and images in order to demonstrate what urban society stands for, in accordance with Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and 11:18-20. Everyone is supposed to read them aloud when passing by or to store them away in one’s head. Litterae manent, verba volant is understood quite differently from present interpretations: words have to be made alive by pronouncing them, otherwise they stay dead. And that is how and why urban literature of the late Middle Ages played an active role in forming, defending and propagating what came to be called typical middle-class virtues, which revolved around the key concepts of practicality and utilitarianism.