Cover Image: The Fantasy of the Middle Ages

The Fantasy of the Middle Ages

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Member Reviews

The Fantasy of the Middle Ages is a beautifully illustrated and well written monograph and exhibition catalogue on the art of the middle ages as it relates to media and modern aesthetic sensibility. Due out 19th July 2022 from Getty Publications, it's 144 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. The relevant exhibition, titled Fantasy of the Middle Ages, is scheduled to run at the J. Paul Getty Museum from 21st June through 11th Sept. 2022. 

This is a layman accessible, lushly illustrated volume written and curated by Drs. Larisa Grollemond and Bryan C. Keene. The text is interesting and the connections between the middle ages and the modern day are built up logically and perceptively. The book isn't academically rigorous and doesn't contain annotations. The authors have included extensive illustration credits and a short bibliography for further reading. 

This would be a good resource and candidate for public or school library acquisition, as well as full of illustrations which will be of use to calligraphers, artists, and students of history. 

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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I thought this was a great book about how the Middle Ages was such an inspiration to the Fantasy culture. How a lot of books, tv shows, movies, comics, etc took a lot from how people use to live back in the day and twist it in a fun way to give birth to a great genre. I love the illustrations through out the book.
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Interesting perspective, but I was expecting a more academic reading for a book published by the Getty Museum, which holds one one the larger libraries of Medieval manuscripts.  The illustrations are lively and there are some great nuggets, but if you are looking for more than a fun introduction manuscript miniatures or not into Game of Thrones, probably not the book for you.
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THE FANTASY OF THE MIDDLE AGES is an absolutely gorgeous book. I read this book on Netgalley, but since I am also interviewing these authors for our library's podcast, I received a print edition as well, and it is a thing of beauty. From its magenta fore-edges to the gilded embossing on the cover, it took my breath away. But it contains not only perfect aesthetics, but valuable information on how medieval book art has shaped depictions of medieval life and fantasy worlds throughout history. Depictions of the medieval have much more to say about the eras in which they were created than the era that they depict; Grollemond and Keene ably guide the reader through how constructions of the medieval shape and reshape modern identities. Curious about the medievalism of Star Wars? How about how Disney has informed our image of the Middle Ages? Or perhaps you're just interested in its hundreds of glorious, beautiful full-color images from medieval and modern art? Then be sure to check this book out-- and if you're lucky enough to be in LA, the exhibit it accompanies at the Getty.
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Another fascinating book by Getty Publications: a feast for the eyes and some interesting essay about Middle Age culture and ideas.
The book is well written, not always easy but intriguing enough to keep me hooked.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I'll admit, I picked up the eARC of this book for the pictures, LOL. And on that front, it absolutely did not disappoint. (Nor did the unexpected, but not at all unwelcome, references to and examinations of Tolkien and his works!)

I was a European Studies major in college, and the read brought back many a fond memory (truly!) of books read, papers written, and movies watched. I've defo got a shortlist of entertainment to revisit now!

The downside for me was the inclusion (no pun intended) of discussion on gender identity and expression, applying a currently very hot-button topic to a bygone era. If you're interested in that, fine; go for it! But--I was personally, frankly, very much not (looking for it, or interested in reading about it).

So, I'll enjoy the pictures here and revisit some old books and art I do enjoy.

3/5 stars.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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First, thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this one! It was amazing. This was right up my street, not overly long, not overly wordy, and it was just... plain enjoyable. I'm going to purchase a hardcopy of this!
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This book goes with an exhibition at the Getty Museum this summer. It has interesting scholarly text along with beautiful artwork, from the Middle Ages to the present. 

The authors discuss Medievalism as a cultural myth and how it relates to fantasy. We get a time-compressed and not always accurate depiction of the Middle Ages when the time period is represented in books, tv, and movies, but it’s what defines medieval for us now. What we see in medieval-based fantasy is almost mythology.

In case you think this is some dry textbook, it’s not! Just some of the cultural icons that make an appearance are Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, lots of Disney movies, Dungeons & Dragons, Assassin’s Creed, and more. Huzzah!

I enjoyed this book. I’ve only been to the Getty Center once, but I wish I could go back for this exhibition. It comes out July 19. Thank you to Getty Publications and NetGalley for my copy.
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“The Venn diagram of “medieval” and “fantasy” so closely overlap that they are almost inextricable.”

The premise was interesting, especially since I enjoy both medieval history and medieval-inspired stories many of which were mentioned here — but it just failed to click with me. And the main reason was probably how earnestly didactic it was. 

A bit too dry and too repetitive, with very superficial explanations — I suppose that as an accompanying book to the exhibition at J. Paul Getty Museum it really needed to serve as just an overview, but it left me wanting much more.

But the illustrations were great, although a bit too many of the modern medievalist-inspired ones rather than actual old ones. But still — those I enjoyed quite a bit more than the accompanying text.

2.5 stars — but I’ll definitely see that exhibition if I have a chance.
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While I did find this book interesting it did seem a bit didactic at times. Would be a useful reference if I was doing academic research. Did enjoy the images and background references. Would recommend.
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Rating: 3.5 ⭐

First of all, thank you to NetGalley and Getty Publications for this ARC! This review is voluntarily written by me.

Truthfully, it is really hard for me to review this book because there are a lot of factors that need to be factored in. I will write this review as a non-native English speaker that wants to know about history but does not have enough basics about it. I actually have a hard time reading this book maybe because I rarely read books on these topics and I feel that somehow I’m reading a review paper with a lot of pictures in it. For me, I thought that this book is written in a really formal way that is quite hard to understand for some people, but it is understandable because this book is a companion book to an exhibition. This book is really heavy for me, however, I still get a lot of new knowledge about medievalism, fantasy, and arts from this book. For me, if any readers are interested in fantasy, art, and history, especially medievalism, they can read this book.
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Honestly, i am not the best or the right person to review this book as fantasy and medievalism are not my best subjects. As a matter of fact, you could say i rarely or hardly read books from such genres but i do watched them occasionally like Lord Of The Rings, Narnia and the fairy tales including the German version. 

Thus, reading this book brought a whole new experience for me,like i am exposed to the world of medievalism and how its influences the fantasy elements in the artistic artworks and the media; from books, costumes, stage sets to the cinematic screens/the movies. So, in these areas, it was refreshing and very interesting exploration for me as a newbie in the area.

On the contrary it could also be quite a struggle for me to comprehend and grasp some of the interesting points of discussions in this book due to my lack of knowledge in the subject matter as i find the writings to be dense and heavy for me,a mere layman. At times, i find some parts to be repetitive. 

However, as reiterated earlier, it could just be me,due to my lack of knowledge,experience and interest could be the slight hindrance in enjoying and giving a fair and deserving review and feedback of this very richly illustrated book with a fine analysis of the influences of medievalism in some of the well-known work of arts that we have known and seen today such as the Legend Of King Arthur, the Harry Potter series, the Lord Of The Rings, the Games Of Throne and even Cinderella. 

So, i would highly recommend this book for those of you who are really into art, history,medievalism and fantasy and the related areas. Otherwise, you might find this book to be heavy and struggle a lot like i did. However,fret not this book is just a short read,accompanied by lots of interesting illustrations and manuscripts related to medievalism and fantastical elements for us to feast our eyes on and its coffee-table size would make it a great collection to one of our cozy reading book collections. 

Thank you Getty Publications and NetGalley for the e-ARC copy in an exchange for my honest feedback and review.
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Thank you, Getty Publications, for the advance reading copy.

More like a coffee table book with quite an informative, colourful content with amazing illustrations and content related art/pictures/photographs the book offers some of the best content you will ever find and read in a book.

I have gained so much knowledge just from one page and I am taking my time to read the entire book. It's like traveling the world and the virtual world both combined through the book. 

The content is incomparable to anything else.

It entertains. It surprises. It fulfills.

Kudos to the publication team.
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‘The Fantasy of the Middle Ages’ takes us through the Middle Ages and how we have seen it portrayed throughout history. It’s an absolutely beautiful book, with screen grabs and artwork from film and television. I particularly enjoyed the King Arthur chapter and the walkthrough of the many adaptations and their interpretations of the myth. A perfect mix of art, pop culture and history!

Thank you to NetGalley and Getty Publications for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a very short book accompanying an exhibit at the Getty on how the middle ages are depicted in fantasy literature, film, and other media. There is a great collection of medieval manuscript pages, as well as stills from movies, TV shows, photos of artworks, etc

Grollemond & Keene unpack the Arthurian mythos from its earliest known sources and track its transformation over the centuries, pointing out the renditions that include Black, queer, and non-Christian characters as they go. They do not have the room to do a deep exploration into what these transformative works say about the societies that produce them, only stating that the values of the subsequent works reflect the values of those creators. 

The authors indict white- and straight-washing of medievalist fantasy and praise the inclusion of characters of color and queer characters in prominent roles in recent fantasy media (since 2019). There is (too little) mention of French and English medievalist tales drawing on stories with Persian, Arab, and Alexandrine origins, but again, there is hardly room in this little booklet to go into the subject. It would be nice to see a detailed analysis of how characters of color, queer characters, and women were whitened, straightened, and either erased or gender-flipped for English and French audiences.

After this, the authors address Ren Faires, D&D, Harry Potter, Gregorian chant as a stand-in for secular medieval music because real medieval secular music doesn't sound medieval enough, The Legend of Zelda, Costume, and so forth. In their view, fantasy and medievalism (aka the rough and wildly inaccurate approximation of "olden times") are inextricably intertwined. I disagree that medievalist staging is necessary for the fantasy genre. You can have modern urban fantasy without faux-medieval trappings, but it is definitely very common for "magic" stories to get a medievalist paint job.

The book closes with a call for medieval studies departments and museums to do some major soul searching wrt the racism and homophobia built into how the canon has been created by its authors and constructed by its scholars. Which seems like a thing the authors could best do with about 300 more pages to present their arguments. I absolutely want to read that book, 

Things I found interesting: the princess in distress is a modern trope, not medieval. There's a drawing of Yoda (yes that Yoda) in the Smithfield Decretals (1300-1340). 

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<i>The fantasy of the Middle Ages</i>: the title made my fantasy-loving brain click hell yes! And it did not disappoint! 

This book talks about the history of fantasy in the middle ages. There are both examples from the middle ages compared to the fantasy that have been through the years after. 

As a fan of Game of Thrones, I loved reading particularly about that. It was also interesting to read about other media of this time period. 

I think this book would be a great book to have and look through every now and then. It can definitely be read from the first to last page, but also you can use it to read whatever chapter that interest you at the moment. 

With illustrations, and thorough text, this book is a good read if you are interested in the subject such as fantasy, the middle ages, and history in general. It can be heavy if you are not that interested in the subject. Just a heads up. Other than that: happy reading!
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This book was so interesting! I loved seeing the art from the Middle Ages, but what was even more interesting was seeing how those times have been used and depicted in present day. I had never really made the connection between medieval times and present day fantasy, but it now seems so obvious! If you're either a history or a fantasy lover I think you'd really enjoy this one!
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Una fantastica lettura che esplora vari aspetti della cultura del fantasy nei vari media odierni partendo ovviamente dai documenti antichi, fino ad arrivare a film, serie tv, fumetti, manga, videogiochi e quant'altro.
E' molto aggiornata e davvero interessante. Ve la consiglio.
Se fosse stata ancora più dettagliata l'avrei apprezzata ancora di più.


A fantastic reading that explores various aspects of fantasy culture in the various media today, obviously starting from ancient documents, up to movies, TV series, comics, manga, video games and so on.
It is very up to date and really interesting. I recommend it.
If it had been even more detailed I would have appreciated it even more.
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I really enjoyed this book, especially as someone who has a degree in Medieval Studies! I really enjoyed the approach that this book took, with relating modern media to the middle ages, and with the 19th century gothic revival. It also goes over the influences that medieval history has on modern media, especially with shows like Game of Thrones, and movies like King Arthur by Guy Ritchie. This book covers important topics such as race, gender roles, and "media" of the medieval period as well. It was an enjoyable read and I found the images and their descriptions to be very helpful.

This book is an excellent choice for someone with no medieval background but is also advanced enough for someone with some background knowledge. I could easily see this book being the basis of a university course - it's definitely something I wish I had while studying!
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This book shows fantastic pictures from the middle ages and shows the parallels between modern stories and middle-aged tales and legends. A great read for the middle-age and fantasy enthusiast.
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