Item description for The Imaginative World of the Reformation by Peter Matheson...
Overview More than a change in political, religious, and social structures, the early Reformation signaled a profound shift in the perception of reality. Matheson's lucid study draws on sermons, pamphlets, letters, paintings, and woodcuts to reveal the spiritual vitality of the era and the revolutionary power that transformed ordinary people's lives.
Publishers Description In this small gem of Reformation research, Peter Matheson offers a rich view of the Reformation as it appeared in pamphlets and sermons, woodcuts and paintings, poetry and song, correspondence and the contours of daily life.The popular media he explores evince the Reformation's novel use of images and metaphors, its deep effects on personal and family life and spirituality, heightened civic engagement, great utopian dreams and experiments, as well as its nightmarish excesses.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Imaginative World of the Reformation by Peter Matheson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 01/01/2002 page 898
Christian Century - 01/02/2002 page 41
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Imaginative World of the Reformation?
Brief but intriguing Feb 26, 2007
Matheson offers in only 140 pages, an interesting way of looking at the Reformation, something that has been needed in historical circles for several decades. The imaginative world of the early modern period unfortunately is far too diverse and fragmented to consider in so short a space. Carlo Ginzburg's microhistory The Cheese and the Worms (a work that is absent from Matheson's bibliography) reveals how a rather normal man can imagine a cosmology completely out of sync with the status quo. To simply dismiss this as an anomaly is shortsighted, for other works such as Nathan Johnstone's study on the English conceptions of the Devil in the same period have revealed a diverse set of mentalities amongst people. That said, Matheson offers some interesting points of departure and opens the door for further examination, particularly concerning dreams/nightmares and early modern people's own imaginative perceptions of their actions and the actions of others. Also, the book is a good addition to the machinery which is slowly unbuilding the Weberian understanding of Protestantism and the Reformation. Finally, while intriguing and engaging as a writer, Matheson tends to at times breach the academic boundaries of literary style. He is capable of exaltations in soliloquy and of descriptions that border on naive and fantastical. While his analysis of the Protestants understanding of the Reformation as a realignment or a reharmonisation of religion is a fascinating analogy (which lacks thorough evidence), he tends to take it (and other analysis) beyond the bounds of solid academic discourse. That said, overall, the book is both groundbreaking and thought provoking. It is something that both the layman and the professional historian should engage and enjoy.