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Document Details :

Title: Wilderness Mythology in the West
Subtitle: The Life of the Jura Fathers
Author(s): FELDT, Laura
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 97    Issue: 3   Date: 2021   
Pages: 427-447
DOI: 10.2143/ETL.97.3.3289713

Abstract :
Using perspectives drawn from theories of spatiality and narrative, this article examines how wild nature is framed and used in late antique Gaul, as desert mythology and wilderness narratives moved from East to West. I discuss the role that wild nature plays in the formation of Christian identity in this era. My focus is the Latin text The Life of the Jura Fathers and how it produces the wilderness as a material-natural, designed, and lived space. In this text, we see how the material space of the forests of Gaul is interwoven with aspects of designed space from biblical and ascetic literature, as well as with ideas of Gallic rusticity, into a new and complex synthesis that is not dichotomous. The wilderness is here a benign space that secures the decisive identity transformation of the ascetics, and in which they can connect to the other world. Interestingly, the natural fertility, protection, and power of the other world that ascetics can access via wild nature gain a remarkable literary aspect and can be channelled into their writing and letters.

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