Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part two)

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here fore more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Letter

Sixteenth century humanists may appear to “put aside such bodily gestures with disdain,” but Bray argues that “one need only lift a corner of its rhetoric to see how much it still drew on them and their continuing vitality.” This is illustrated in the paired portraits of Peter Gilles and Erasmus, which the two sent to Thomas More in 1517. In them, Erasmus looks up while composing his Paraphrase of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, towards the book to which Gilles is gesturing, More’s Utopia. “The book projects beyond the frame of the picture, and the gesture draws the unseen observer, More himself, into the intimacy of these two friends seated in Erasmus’s study.” Continue reading “Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part two)”

Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part one)

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here fore more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Sir Thomas Baines died in September 1681, and his friend John Finch died the following year. In their shared monument in the chapel of Christ’s College, Cambridge, there is a “single flaming funerary urn set above, in a visual pun on the marriage or love knot.” In Constantinople, Finch left an inscription to his friends memory, describing their friendship as an “Animorum Connubial”, a “marriage of souls.” Such an expression is “no eccentricity at the end of the seventeenth century” and can be seen in many other inscriptions. Continue reading “Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part one)”

Summary: The Friend Chapter 3, Families and Friends

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here fore more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Chapter three opens with a discussion of the memorial brass for the joint tomb of John Bloxham and John Whytton in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford. The two stand beside each other with their hands together in prayer, looking at the viewer, a depiction common for joint tombs of spouses at the time. Bray points out that one of the most significant features of the memorial, however, are the names of the two men beneath an icon for St. John the Baptist. Bray writes that the design designates the saint “as their spiritual godfather and thus each other as spiritual brothers.” It establishes a kinship. Continue reading “Summary: The Friend Chapter 3, Families and Friends”

Summary: The Friend Chapter 2, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Friend.

In the seventeenth century, Fulke Greville planned a joint memorial for himself and his friend Philip Sidney. Like the tombstone of Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe in the fourteenth century, the arrangement “might have been expected of the tomb of a husband and wife.” However, the sixteenth century tomb marks a development in the understanding of friendship.  Continue reading “Summary: The Friend Chapter 2, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney”

Summary: The Friend: Chapter 1, Wedded Brother

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here for more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Chapter one begins with a tomb in a fourteenth-century Dominican church in modern-day Istanbul. The shared tombstone of Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe shows helmets facing each other, corresponding “to the stylized depiction of a kiss, and the arrangement of… two overlapping shields below to that of an embrace.” He notes that the arrangement of the arms “is that of a married couple.” Continue reading “Summary: The Friend: Chapter 1, Wedded Brother”

Summary: Alan Bray’s The Friend

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series.

The Friend is a book that grew out of Alan Bray’s encounter with the shared tomb of John Finch and Thomas Baines in the chapel of Christ’s College at Cambridge. It was published postmortem. It sought to answer the question, when faced with this tomb: “What do you make of this?” Bray believes that friendship occupied a distinctive place in what he identifies as “traditional society”, in contrast to modern culture, which he claims suffers “a crisis of friendship.” Modern culture views friendship as essentially private, while traditional culture valued friendship as a public institution. Faced with the polemicist historians for and against the “traditional family”, Bray seeks to navigate a challenging history of friendship that cannot be considered separately from the history of the family. He notes that the evidence suggested a “formal and objective character that friendship could possess that could overlap with the character of kinship.” The proceeding chapters pursue this character.  Continue reading “Summary: Alan Bray’s The Friend”