A Religious Controversy

Timothy Chesters

in Ghost Stories in Late Renaissance France

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599806
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723537 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

A Religious Controversy

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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The first section of this chapter reviews the function of ghost stories in late medieval Europe. Particular attention is paid to the work of Jean Gerson, whose two tracts on discretio spirituum offered a powerful model of how female spiritual experience might be brought under male ecclesiastical control. The next section discusses the afterlife of Gersonian discernment in sixteenth-century France, with particular emphasis on a 1528 ghost narrative by Adrien de Montalembert. Following this is a section on Protestant accusations of priestly abuses of Purgatory and indulgences. These accusations often took the form of ghost hoax narratives—a popular subgenre in the mid-sixteenth century. The final section examines New Testament exegesis relating to ghosts, with particular emphasis on the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man and the resurrected Christ's appearance to the disciples in the locked room.

Keywords: purgatory; discretio spirituum; Gerson; discernment; gender; Reformation; hoax; Lazarus; New Testament; resurrection

Chapter.  21008 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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