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The Exploitations of Medieval Romance

The Exploitations of Medieval Romance

LAURA ASHE
IVANA DJORDJEVIĆ
JUDITH WEISS
Volume: 12
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81m1z
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  • Book Info
    The Exploitations of Medieval Romance
    Book Description:

    As one of the most important, influential and capacious genres of the middle ages, the romance was exploited for a variety of social and cultural reasons: to celebrate and justify war and conflict, chivalric ideologies, and national, local and regional identities; to rationalize contemporary power structures, and identify the present with the legendary past; to align individual desires and aspirations with social virtues. But the romance in turn exploited available figures of value, appropriating the tropes and strategies of religious and historical writing, and cannibalizing and recreating its own materials for heightened ideological effect. The essays in this volume consider individual romances, groups of writings and the genre more widely, elucidating a variety of exploitative manoeuvres in terms of text, context, and intertext. Contributors: Neil Cartlidge, Ivana Djordjevic, Judith Weiss, Melissa Furrow, Rosalind Field, Diane Vincent, Corinne Saunders, Arlyn Diamond, Anna Caughey, Laura Ashe.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-788-2
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. Abbreviations and Editorial Note
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Laura Ashe

    Literature resists being used, because it has no use; it makes no assertions, it claims no authority, nor does it subvert authority, because that would be to substitute one kind of truth-claim for another. In place of propositional statement, it offers self-conscious verbal play, in place of logic, rhetoric, and in place of truth, fiction.¹

    Derek Pearsall’s 2004 salvo against the furthest reaches of historicist criticism expresses, with characteristic brio, the dangers of reading literature solely in terms of its complicity with – and creation and instantiation of – cultural and political ideologies. But as one might expect...

  7. 1 The Fairies in the Fountain: Promiscuous Liaisons
    (pp. 15-27)
    Neil Cartlidge

    A valiant and handsome knight spends all his money attempting to support himself at court. One day, he goes for a ride in the countryside and eventually comes to a meadow where there is a flowing stream or spring. Here he encounters three beautiful, but apparently otherworldly, women. What happens next involves a certain amount of gratuitous female nudity and results in the knight being granted certain magical privileges. These provide him with abundant access to both money and sexual gratification. After returning to civilization, he enjoys these gifts untroubled for a while, but then finds himself in a situation...

  8. 2 Saracens and Other Saxons: Using, Misusing, and Confusing Names in Gui de Warewic and Guy of Warwick
    (pp. 28-42)
    Ivana Djordjević

    In a genre not known for its faithful representation of reality, including geographic reality, the Middle English and, even more, Anglo-Norman versions of the romance of Guy of Warwick stand out for their surprising fidelity to verifiable geographical fact. This is not to say that there would be any point in trying to recreate the hero’s itinerary as he wanders over large parts of Britain, Europe, and the Middle East, for it would soon become obvious that the distances are impossible and the spatial relationships between the numerous places mentioned in the text often confused. But many of these places...

  9. 3 The Exploitation of Ideas of Pilgrimage and Sainthood in Gui de Warewic
    (pp. 43-56)
    Judith Weiss

    Anglo-Norman romance started to exploit hagiography and the concept of penitential pilgrimage at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The poet of Gui de Warewic was a veritable magpie, who picked up, as Dominica Legge has remarked, narrative motifs from everywhere.¹ In particular, when he introduced for the first time to insular romance a hero in the prime of life, fame behind him and a happy marriage before him, who decides to give it all up for a poor, anonymous and nomadic existence, he drew liberally both on figures of martial sanctity in continental fiction and on saints’ lives, in...

  10. 4 Chanson de geste as Romance in England
    (pp. 57-72)
    Melissa Furrow

    Chansons de geste have long been appropriated by national sentiment, although the nationality in question has traditionally been French, as in Robert Bossuat’s stirring formulation about the Chanson de Roland in a volume of French literary history from the 1950s:

    French in its origins, in the character of its protagonists, and in the nature of the sentiments it expresses, the Song of Roland is, more than any other poem, the true epic of France. Chivalric honour, the importance of one’s word, love of the fatherland, and the glory of the Lord are its essential impulses. In it we sense the...

  11. 5 Patterns of Availability and Demand in Middle English Translations de romanz
    (pp. 73-89)
    Rosalind Field

    This chapter is concerned with the romance culture of Anglo-Norman England and its influence on Middle English romance culture through translation activity. It deals with the long fourteenth century, the period of changeover from French to English as the language of choice for narratives in England from the appearance of the early Middle English romances to the end of the century. Romance is a genre which is increasingly recognized as expressive of social and national identity and is therefore a focus of attitudes, both medieval and modern, to language change and choice. The romance culture of England, in the two...

  12. 6 Reading a Christian–Saracen Debate in Fifteenth–Century Middle English Charlemagne Romance: The Case of Turpines Story
    (pp. 90-107)
    Diane Vincent

    After a crushing defeat of Christian forces at Kosovo in 1448 by Sultan Murad II, Constantinople fell in 1453 to Murad’s son, the ambitious Mehmed II, who styled himself as a new Caesar and continued to move into Serbia, Hungary, and ultimately even parts of Italy. The advance of the Ottoman Turks into the borderlands of western Europe was a pressing foreign policy issue for late-medieval Christian Europe.¹ To fifteenth-century readers of the exploits of Charlemagne in the chansons de geste, however, these disastrous losses could sound a familiar tune, the prelude, in fact, to a song of Christian victory...

  13. 7 Subtle Crafts: Magic and Exploitation in Medieval English Romance
    (pp. 108-124)
    Corinne Saunders

    Magic in romance is most obviously related to the exotic and the marvellous, the expectation of the surprising and the strange. Magical adventure and encounter with those who possess supernatural powers are essential building blocks of romance narratives. These motifs endure in modern and post-modern forms of romance, powerfully present, for instance, in the adventures of Harry Potter, or the fantasy worlds created by Tolkien and Philip Pullman.¹ Part of the enduring appeal of magic, however, is that it also goes beyond the exotic: its effects are both wonderful and fearful. The topos offers the potential for endless exploitation, and...

  14. 8 Meeting Grounds: Gardens in Middle English Romance
    (pp. 125-138)
    Arlyn Diamond

    The topic of gardens in medieval romance is surely well-tilled ground, at once significant and banal. In all the calendars and engagement books that wellmeaning friends and relations give us we see how seductive are those familiar pictures of richly colored flowers and spouting fountains, where the pleasures of artful nature are enjoyed and noble lovers meet.¹ E. R. Curtius, Elizabeth Salter and Derek Pearsall, along with many others, have demonstrated the long literary history and rich symbolic content of the hortus conclusus, or locus amoenus, a space which in the Middle Ages was known from classical poetry and Biblical...

  15. 9 ‘Als for the worthynes of þe romance’: Exploitation of Genre in the Buik of King Alexander the Conqueror
    (pp. 139-158)
    Anna Caughey

    The Buik of King Alexander the Conqueror is a decasyllabic poem dealing with the adventures of Alexander from conception to death, running to 19,369 lines.¹ Although it describes itself as a ‘translation’ it is based to varying degrees on multiple Alexandriads and a number of other texts, in languages that include French, Latin, and Older Scots. One of its most interesting qualities is the way in which it exploits the romance form to incorporate multiple genre identities, demarcating the phases of Alexander’s career. The text thus falls into four sections identifiable in terms of their major generic influences: first, ‘epic’...

  16. 10 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Limits of Chivalry
    (pp. 159-172)
    Laura Ashe

    According to the chronicler, the middle of the fourteenth century saw the king of England seek to recreate the Arthurian court:

    De gentillesse de cœur il [Edward III] s’avisa qu’il feroit refaire et rediffier le chastel de Windesore, que le roy Artus avoit fait faire, et où fut establye premierement la Table Ronde à l’occasion des prœux chevaliers qui estoient adoncq, et qu’il feroit et establiroit une pareille à celle Table Ronde pour plus essauchier l’onnour de ses chevaliers, qui si bien l’avoient servi qu’il les tenoit pour prœux, et tant que on ne trouvast les semblablez en quelque royaume,...

  17. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 173-174)
  18. General Index
    (pp. 175-192)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. None)