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The Poetics of Speech in the Medieval Spanish Epic

The Poetics of Speech in the Medieval Spanish Epic

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The Poetics of Speech in the Medieval Spanish Epic
    Book Description:

    The Poetics of Speech in the Medieval Spanish Epicexplores the composition of manuscript texts in thirteenth-century Spain.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8714-1
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    There is abundant evidence of a vibrant tradition of epic poetry disseminated orally in Spain during the Middle Ages. Perhaps the best example of its prominence can be found in the many heroic narratives that were incorporated as prose text into theEstoria de España, the first vernacular history of Spain sponsored and guided by Alfonso X, king of León-Castile (1252–84).¹ The learned chroniclers of this royal enterprise based their historical narrative on two thirteenth-century histories originally written in Latin.² But they were also obliged to include the more compelling oral narratives circulating at the time, which focused primarily...

  5. 1 The Critical Response to Oral Composition
    (pp. 8-23)

    The extent to which oral expression shapes the Spanish epic has been a lively issue among Hispano-medievalists, although the polemical question of its oral composition has been effectively shelved in favour of an approach that allows for varying degrees of literate and oral influences.¹ The modern understanding of the Spanish epic begins with the work of Ramón Menéndez Pidal, who published extensively throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The exceptional quality of his work is manifested by its continued relevance among scholars, and by the fact that many of the current assumptions about theCidcan be traced...

  6. 2 Learned Culture
    (pp. 24-46)

    In medieval Europeillitteratuswas the term used to denote someone who knew no Latin, whilelitteratusmeant that a person knew Latin, or was ‘learned.’¹ A parallel antithesis is that ofclericusandlaicus, although none of these terms may be used in a strictly modern sense. A monk or cleric might well beillitteratuswhile a knight might in turn be referred to asclericus, in the sense of being learned (Clanchy 1979, 177–82). Reading and writing did not go hand in hand as they do today. Literary works were intended for reading aloud, whether in Latin...

  7. 3 The Cantar de Mio Cid
    (pp. 47-75)

    In the previous chapter we saw that in the Middle Ages in general, and in the thirteenth century in particular, oral composition was an integral part of the process of writing texts in Latin. In some cases, the texts were first composed in the vernacular and then translated into Latin.¹ Texts composed in the vernacular required no translation, of course, since the same language is used for composing and for recording the text. The first of the extant vernacular epic texts preserved in Christian Spain is theCantar de Mio Cid, put to parchment in 1207 in a process that...

  8. 4 The Poema de Fernán González
    (pp. 76-104)

    ThePoema de Fernán Gonzálezis exceptional in a number of ways. Like theCid, the poem recreates the heroic deeds of a Castilian warrior, Count Fernán González. Also a historical personage, Fernán González waged war and politics aggressively in the mid-tenth century (Salvador Martínez 1991, 9–16; López Guil 2001, 123–8), and his legendary status rests on his relentless pursuit of the independence of Castile from the kingdom of León. In much the same way that the historical Cid and the poem are connected to the Castilian monastery San Pedro de Cardeña, the Fernán González of history is...

  9. 5 The Mocedades de Rodrigo
    (pp. 105-122)

    TheMocedades de Rodrigois an epic poem that narrates the youthful deeds of the adolescent Rodrigo Díaz, better known in later life as the Cid. In this narrative the protagonist is the descendant of legendary warrior lords who governed Castile in times of continual aggression. The heroine is the daughter of a count, killed in retaliatory combat by the young hero. Their marriage is imposed, meant to appease the need for vengeance in the recent blood feud and to save the king from disrupting the uneasy alliance between the Castilian and Leonese factions of his kingdom. The story is...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 123-124)

    The texts of thirteenth-century Spain are varied in language and in function. Yet the Latin texts of the learned clerics and the vernacular epic narratives have more in common than is generally acknowledged, especially in their use of speech in the compositional process. Once composed, however, the learned texts passed through additional stages of editorial reworking that mask their link to an initial oral composition. Not so for the epic poems that are spoken in the language of the poet, scribe, and audience. These narratives retain many of the features of spoken discourse because they are composed in a fashion...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 125-136)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 137-144)
  13. Index
    (pp. 145-147)