Micheal Richter This book is the first extensive study of the oral culture in the early medieval West. Access to this culture is inevitably through the written sources, and indeed there is quite substantial information in the sources once these are properly 'decoded'. Latin is the dominant language of the surviving contemporary records, but it emerges that this language is highly inadequate to articulate the main features of the early medieval non-Latin societies. It is argued that the written sources in the period are not representative for these societies generally, which in fact had a broad based, effective and adequate oral culture. It is suggested that this situation accounts for the slow emergence of vernacular literature.
The book also poses approaches to the field of music, also an integral part of the oral culture, and while the text remains strongly problem-orientated, suggesting ways of dealing concretely with oral culture in times of distant past, it will become a standard reference for academics and students in this field.