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Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

Penny Eley
Series: Gallica
Volume: 21
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 260
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81g2r
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  • Book Info
    Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making
    Book Description:

    Partonopeus de Blois is one of the most important works of twelfth-century French fiction; it shaped the development of romance as a genre, gave rise to adaptations in several other medieval languages and even an opera (Massanet's Esclarmonde). However, p

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-782-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    For much of the critical history of twelfth-century French romance, Partonopeus de Blois has been one of a group of texts that have existed on the periphery of mainstream scholarship (others include the romances of Hue de Rotelande, especially Proteselaus, Aimon de Varennes’s Florimont and the anonymous Guillaume de Palerne). Writing in 1953, Sikko Pieter Uri lamented the fact that ‘the romance of Partonopeus seems nearly forgotten in the twentieth century’.¹ Even in 1999 a critic could still claim, with some justification, that ‘the medieval bestseller Partonopeu […] is scarcely known today even by specialists in the field’.² It is...

  6. Chapter 1 Patterns of Youth and Age
    (pp. 19-49)

    A toy-boy and an older woman may be part of the stock-in-trade of modern romantic fiction, but they are not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the heroes and heroines of twelfth-century French romance.¹ A more typical pairing might be Erec and Enide, the one in his early twenties and the other still young enough to be unmarried at the start of the romance that bears their names. Or, again, the hero and first heroine of Ille et Galeron, who meet when Ille has been knighted and has spent three years establishing himself, and when...

  7. Chapter 2 Power, Birth and Values: The fils à vilain Theme
    (pp. 50-74)

    The binary opposition between cortois and vilain underpins a whole range of medieval French texts intended for aristocratic audiences. A concern with what is courtly and what is not manifests itself in a variety of ways, from the less than flattering portraits of those outside court circles found in Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain and Le Conte du Graal to more explicit debates such as that dramatised in Raoul de Houdenc’s Meraugis de Portlesguez. In this romance, two knights fall in love with the same lady: one, Gorvain, on account of her physical beauty alone, and the other, Meraugis, ‘por sa...

  8. Chapter 3 Walter Map and Other Animals
    (pp. 75-111)

    The fils à vilain theme examined in Chapter 2 is only one of a number of unifying threads that run through Partonopeus de Blois, helping to tie its various rewritings more closely together. Others include the frequent interventions of the ‘lyric’ narrator who constantly aligns the progress of his own extra-diegetic love-affair with the changing fortunes of the hero and heroine, and the regular appearance in the central section of the narrative of women characters who act as as adjuvants and obstruants for the hero (Urraque, Persewis, Armant’s wife versus the hero’s mother and the niece of the king of...

  9. Chapter 4 Experiments in Fiction: Anselot’s Story
    (pp. 112-149)

    Bruckner was one of the first critics to draw attention to the experimental nature of much of the writing in Partonopeus de Blois, a work that she saw as setting a standard ‘for beauty and pleasure, for experimentation in form and fusion, that becomes exemplary for the romancers who follow’. Noting the mingling of different styles and genres in the Continuation, she comments in passing that ‘Anselot’s story itself is a kind of lai told in the first person.’¹ This brief description of the 600 or so lines that contain Anselot’s account of what happened to him after he was...

  10. Chapter 5 When is an Ending not an Ending? Questions of Closure
    (pp. 150-178)

    Although their primary focus lies elsewhere, the previous two chapters have both engaged obliquely with questions of narrative closure. Walter Map’s possible involvement in expanding Anselot’s tirade against the fils à vilain reminds us that interpolation is not something that ‘just happens’ to medieval texts. Rather, it is a conscious process, undertaken by a specific individual who either finds the original composition lacking in some way or wants to add his own contribution to it. Interpolation of this kind is based on the premise that a vernacular narrative is ‘open’ in a way that scriptural or classical texts are not:...

  11. Chapter 6 Poets and a Patroness: The Making of Partonopeus de Blois
    (pp. 179-206)

    The evidence presented in the previous three chapters reveals that the Partonopeus Continuation is undisputably the work of more than one individual, and that it took a considerable period of time for it to evolve into the form in which it has come down to us. That process of evolution seems to have consisted of several separate stages and to have involved at least four continuators: the original poet himself, who was responsible for the Anselot episode and part of the invasion narrative; one or more twelfth-century interpolators (who may have included Walter Map); a thirteenth-century remanieur who added the...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 207-214)

    This book set out to explore both the making of a romance – Partonopeus de Blois – and its impact on the making of Old French romance as a genre. In the process, it has become clear that one of our poem’s key contributions to the development of twelfth-century fiction was to validate the notion of vernacular romance as a form that is always in the making, never definitively made. In some ways, then, it seems to go against the spirit of open-endedness embodied in Partonopeus to try to impose on this book the conventional mark of closure represented by a chapter...

  13. Appendix 1: Notes on Editions and Manuscripts
    (pp. 215-217)
  14. Appendix 2: Synopsis
    (pp. 218-228)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-250)
  16. Index
    (pp. 251-260)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-262)