Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes

Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes

Series: Gallica
Volume: 19
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 212
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Thinking Through Chrétien de Troyes
    Book Description:

    This co-written, multi-stranded book challenges assumptions about Chrétien as the author of a canon of works. In a series of lively exchanges, its five authors reassess the relationship between lyric and romance, between individuality and social conditions, and between psychology and medieval philosophy. The idea of 'logical time' is used to open up such topics as adventure, memory, imagination, and textual variation. Recent research on Troyes and on the political agency of women leads to the reappraisal of subjectivity and gender. Throughout, the medieval texts associated with the name of Chrétien are highlighted as sites where thought emerges; the implications of this thought are historicized and further conceptualized with the help of recent theoretical works, including those of Lacan. ZRINKA STAHULJAK, VIRGINIE GREENE, SARAH KAY, SHARON KINOSHITA and PEGGY McCRACKEN are professors at the University of California, Los Angeles, Harvard, Princeton, the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Michigan respectively.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-852-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Who was Chrétien de Troyes? This is a question that implicitly or explicitly grounds critical readings of the works associated with this name.¹ The construction of a unified corpus is grounded in the premise of single authorship, subtended by an implicit claim to oneness: one author – Chrétien de Troyes – to whom was securely attributed a corpus of five romances. The focus on authorized authorship has tended to marginalize other works associated with or attributed to Chrétien – the lyrics, the short text “Philomena,” and Guillaume d’Angleterre – and in a circular logic, to draw from the romance corpus an identifying style that...

  5. 1 The “Changeful Pen”: Paradox, Logical Time, and Poetic Spectrality in the Poems Attributed to Chrétien de Troyes
    (pp. 15-40)

    The attributions to Chrétien de Troyes of the lyrics “Amors tençon et bataille” (R.-S. 121) and “D’Amors qui m’a tolu a moi” (R.-S. 1664) have not been contested since they were confirmed as belonging to the Chrétien corpus by Förster in 1914.¹ Although Zai’s 1974 edition² prints the texts of three other grands chants courtois ascribed to Chrétien by one or more manuscript(s), no one now accepts these attributions, and the only one which, in the past, was ever admitted into the Chrétien canon is “De joli cuer chanterai” (R.-S. 66).³ However, the two canonical lyrics, although ascribed to Chrétien...

  6. 2 Imagination
    (pp. 41-74)

    Being the best knight in the world, Lancelot does not need magic to defeat his adversaries, cross dangerous bridges, or resist the assaults of assertive damsels. He simply uses his physical strength, courage, military skills, endurance, and exceptional ability to focus on one and only one object of desire. In the Charrete, there is an exception to this rule, a magic ring that Lancelot received from his fairy foster mother. The stone of this ring “had such a power that no spell could bind him once he had looked at the stone” (tel force avoit/Qu’anchantemanz ne le pooit/Tenir, puis qu’il...

  7. 3 Adventures in Wonderland: Between Experience and Knowledge
    (pp. 75-110)

    The responses of characters to marvelous events in romances may be disappointing for the reader of romances: reason is no match for situations that require omniscience. Wonders may be a rich tool to stir up the imagination and psychological engagement of the reader, but reason does not measure up to them, ultimately providing little insight into the nature of the event disrupting the everyday human order of things. In Guillaume d’Angleterre, after much ratiocination, reason yields, blindly and aimlessly, to the imperious command to go into exile; the king abandons himself and his wife to “whatever shall happen to me”...

  8. 4 Feudal Agency and Female Subjectivity
    (pp. 111-138)

    Thus far we have been considering twelfth-century courtly literature, both lyric and romance, as a concrete, particularizing mode of thinking – an ad hoc exercise, “thinking on the spot,” in contrast to the universalizing impulse characteristic of more systematic strands of medieval thought. Despite the emerging emphasis on the self and the responsibility of the individual in contemporary spiritual and legal discourse, respectively, we called into question the automatism of the modern binary opposition between the internal-as-individual, on the one hand, and the external-as-collective, on the other. Thus in Chapter 2 we imagined, in the figure of Psychologic, “a psychology interested...

  9. 5 Forgetting to Conclude
    (pp. 139-162)

    The Chrétien romances are long poems, we noted in Chapter 1. The narratives unfold in rhyming couplets, like all twelfth-century romances in Old French, but the chronology of the story is sometimes interrupted by what we’ve identified as logical time. Like the Chrétien songs, the romances engage in the non-chronological temporality of “thinking on the spot,” the process through which the text thinks using repetition and contradiction. That is, reading the romances in light of the lyric spectrality of the songs suggests the extent to which the chronology of the narratives may give way to logical time, to thinking on...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 163-166)

    Our project of thinking through Chrétien was inspired by the desire to move away from the critical project of thinking about Chrétien or with Chrétien, as though Chrétien were an author whose identity was securely anchored in specific identifications. We also aspired to escape a rigid chronological frame in which the Chrétien œuvre is defined by the perception of an increasing maturity or progression of ideas. What insights are to be gained, we asked, when the relation of the corpus to the proper name is taken as a convention rather than as a biographical claim that implicitly dictates notions of...

  11. Appendix I: Sigla of the Principal Manuscripts of the Chrétien Romances
    (pp. 167-168)
  12. Appendix II: Lyric Texts, Textual Notes and Translations
    (pp. 169-175)
  13. Appendix III: Passages from Cligés for Comparison with Lyric Texts
    (pp. 176-180)
  14. Appendix IV: Variants to the “Cart Scene” in Le Chevalier de la charrete
    (pp. 181-182)
    (pp. 183-194)
  16. Index
    (pp. 195-202)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-204)