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Allegorical Quests from Deguileville to Spenser

Allegorical Quests from Deguileville to Spenser

Marco Nievergelt
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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    Allegorical Quests from Deguileville to Spenser
    Book Description:

    "Offers the first full study of the allegorical knightly quest tradition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Richly satisfying, as impressive in the detail of its scholarship as in the elegance of its critical formulations. It seamlessly moves between different literary traditions and across conventional period boundaries. In Dr Nievergelt's treatment of this theme, the successive retellings of the tale of the knight's quest come to stand as an emblem of shifting values and norms, both religious and worldly; and of our repeated failures to realise those ideals." Dr Alex Davis, Department of English, University of St Andrews. The literary motif of the "allegorical knightly quest" appears repeatedly in the literature of the late medieval/early modern period, notably in Spenser, but has hitherto been little examined. Here, in his examination of a number of sixteenth-century English allegorical-chivalric quest narratives, focussing on Spenser's 'Faerie Queene' but including important, lesser-known works such as Stephen Bateman's 'Travayled Pylgrime' and William Goodyear's 'Voyage of the Wandering Knight', the author argues that the tradition begins with the French writer Guillaume de Deguileville. His seminal 'Pèlerinage de la vie humaine' was composed c.1331-1355; it was widely adapted, translated, rewritten and printed over the next centuries. Dr Nievergelt goes on to demonstrate how this essentially "medieval" literary form could be adapted to articulate reflections on changing patterns of identity, society and religion during the early modern period; and how it becomes a vehicle of self-exploration and self-fashioning during a period of profound cultural crisis. Dr Marco Nievergelt is Lecturer (Maître Assitant) and SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Research Fellow in the English Department at the Université de Lausanne.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-036-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Albrecht Dürer’s famous engraving, The Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), shows the picture of a mounted soldier, sternly looking ahead and seemingly unaware of the threat posed by the two monstrous creatures approaching his horse. In the background, outside of the knight’s field of vision and towering high above the group, is a city built on a distant and inaccessible rock. The two planes of the picture are suspended in a state of tension: its foreground with the suggestion of struggle, combat, movement and its static background hinting at repose, safety and deliverance. The tension results from an implied...

  6. 1 Homo Viator: Guillaume de Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de vie humaine
    (pp. 23-44)

    The conception of life as a journey is implicit in the entire tradition of the ‘pilgrimage of life’ allegories, and is also one of the fundamental figures of the human condition, recurring throughout widely different cultures with broadly analogous functions.¹ The wayfaring hero, figure of man, is at present in an incomplete or unfulfilled state of being, and his journey always denotes some sort of transformation, a ‘becoming’, a quest for an as yet elusive identity. The Christian conception of the journey, while it is largely shaped by biblical motifs, reverberates nevertheless with echoes of older narratives rooted in an...

  7. 2 Chivalric Transformations in Fifteenth-Century France
    (pp. 45-73)

    The four works discussed in this chapter are derived from the model of Deguileville’s Vie. Structural and thematic parallels in all four works unmistakeably point either directly to Deguileville, or possibly to other derivative texts in his tradition.¹ In the case of René d’Anjou’s Livre du cuer d’amour espris (1457–77) and Olivier de La Marche’s Chevalier délibéré (1483) this can be confirmed with reference to the presence of Deguileville manuscripts in the environment in which the poets wrote. Jean de Courcy’s Chemin de vaillance (1424) is more obviously derivative, and the debt to Deguileville is immediately apparent, whilst Thomas...

  8. 3 Stephen Hawes: The Secularised Quest
    (pp. 74-96)

    Stephen Hawes’s three major works all derive from the fundamental pattern of Deguileville’s Vie, but substantially alter the terms of the allegorical journey’s significance.¹ Even if it is impossible to establish Hawes’s debt to Deguileville definitively, circumstances weigh heavily in favour of Hawes’s direct knowledge of the Vie in particular, and possibly the Âme. It was demonstrated in Chapter 1 that Deguileville’s works enjoyed a marked popularity within Henry VII’s court: Véard’s 1499 print of the prose Vie, illuminated by hand, must have entered the Royal Library in the same year or soon after that, and the Royal Library also...

  9. 4 Stephen Bateman: The Apocalyptic Quest
    (pp. 97-116)

    Stephen Bateman (1542–84) is mainly known for his monumental Batman uppon Bartholome, his Booke De proprietatibus rerum, Newly Corrected, Enlarged and Amended (1582 – STC 1538), a work that is only the final culmination of the encyclopaedic and eclectic interests that directed his activities as an author, clergyman and limner. Apprenticed to a scholar rather than university educated, his thought and work are characterised by a peculiar, sometimes idiosyncratic independent-mindedness and eclecticism.¹ Minister of St Mary Aldermansbury in the late 1560s, he entered the service of Matthew Parker sometime in 1569 or ’70, becoming instituted to the rectory of...

  10. 5 William Goodyear: Everyman’s Quest
    (pp. 117-141)

    William Goodyear’s Wandering Knight (1581 – STC 4700)¹ is a translation of Jean de Cartheny’s Voyage du chevalier errant (1557), which in turn shows signs of the influence of both Deguileville’s Vie and Thomas de Saluces’s Livre du chevalier errant. The Voyage first appeared in print in 1557,² although the author’s dedication to Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, carries the date of December 1552. Cartheny revised his work for his second edition from 1572, and added a new dedication.³ The work seems to have enjoyed a fair degree of popularity, and the second edition was reprinted several times,...

  11. 6 Lewes Lewkenor: The Humanist Quest
    (pp. 142-164)

    Lewes Lewkenor’s Resolved Gentleman (1594 – STC 15139) is, like Bateman’s Travayled Pylgrime, a translation of Olivier de La Marche’s Chevalier délibéré. Unlike Bateman, Lewkenor acknowledges his direct source, Hernando de Acuña’s Spanish version, El caballero determinado. Spanish is also the source language of another translation of Lewkenor’s, The Spanish Mandevile of Miracles, or, The Garden of Curious Flowers, a juvenile work only published at a later date by Ferdinando Walker (1600 – STC 24135). Lewkenor’s ties to Spain are also of a different, more intimate nature: he had spent a number of years in the service of the Spanish...

  12. 7 Edmund Spenser: The Poetic Quest
    (pp. 165-197)

    In the introduction to the Critical Companion to Spenser Studies, Bart van Es provides an illuminating assessment of the major trends in Spenser studies from the previous twenty years.¹ Among the most fertile trends he identifies, two in particular strike me as highly relevant in the present context, since they help to frame the observations offered in the present chapter and in this book as a whole. First, the recent past has brought to the surface a new form of interest in Spenser’s life and career, in terms that have shifted radically from the earlier ‘biographical’ criticism to embrace more...

  13. Coda: Reflections on the Unfinished Quest
    (pp. 198-206)

    So what is left, at the end of the Faerie Queene and at the end of this book, of that supposedly ‘modern self’ whose emergence is glimpsed and refracted through the complex transformations of the allegorical quest tradition? For all its differences from the allegories that precede it, Spenser’s narrative seems to me a good place to stop and look back as well as forward – even if this has nothing to do with Spenser’s real or supposed ‘literary’ merits in ‘overgoing’ his predecessors. Like its ancestors the allegory of the Faerie Queene once more fails for the same reasons,...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-236)
  15. Index
    (pp. 237-244)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)