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Sir Bevis of Hampton in Literary Tradition

Sir Bevis of Hampton in Literary Tradition

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Sir Bevis of Hampton in Literary Tradition
    Book Description:

    Sir Bevis of Hampton is one of the most widespread and important Middle English romances. This book - the first ever full-length study to be devoted to it - considers it in its historical and literary contexts, and its Anglo-Norman, Welsh, Irish and Icelandic versions. It also offers detailed textual analyses, and discusses particular aspects of the story, its "afterlife" and its influence during the early modern period. CONTRIBUTORS: MARIANNE AILES, JUDITH WEISS, ERICH POPPE, REGINE RECK, CHRISTOPHER SANDERS, IVANA DJORDJEVIC, JENNIFER FELLOWS, ROBERT ALLEN ROUSE, SIOBHAIN BLY CALKIN, MELISSA FURROW, CORINNE SAUNDERS, ANDREW KING.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-674-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Abbreviations and Sigla
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Boeve/Bevis: A Synopsis
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Although it is relatively little known today, the story of Bevis of Hampton was among the most popular narratives of the medieval and early modern periods, its only serious rival in this respect being that of Guy of Warwick.¹ There are many parallels between the textual and reception histories of the English versions ofBevisand ofGuy, but also considerable differences. Both are translations of Anglo-Norman texts that are generally regarded as ‘ancestral romances’, associated with particular aristocratic families and specific localities;² texts of both appear in two of the major medieval manuscript compilations of Middle English romances extant...

  8. 1 The Anglo-Norman Boeve de Haumtone as a chanson de geste
    (pp. 9-24)

    The enigma that isBoeve de Haumtoneis summed up in M. Dominica Legge’s seminal study of Anglo-Norman literature, where she discusses the text under the chapter heading ‘Ancestral Romance’, and describes it as belonging to ‘the class labelled romance … cast in the form of achanson de geste’.¹ As form is a major generic marker, her ambivalence over the nature of the text invites examination. In this chapter, I shall examine the way the poet presentsBoeveas achanson de geste, and the use of bothchanson de gestediscourse, based on thelaisse,and more scholarly...

  9. 2 Mestre and Son: The Role of Sabaoth and Terri in Boeve de Haumtone
    (pp. 25-36)

    In the Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtone(late twelfth-century),¹ the young hero has amestre,Sabot or Sabaoth,² who plays an important part in the narrative. He and later his son save Boeve from death and from his enemies.Mestreis a term which in the twelfth century replacespedagogus,ornutricius, as the term for the person employed by noble households to educate their sons, and Insular texts beforeBoeveshow knowledge of the word and the role. It is the purpose of this chapter to examine the way early Anglo-Norman romances use the historical figure of themestre: briefly...

  10. 3 Rewriting Bevis in Wales and Ireland
    (pp. 37-50)

    The medieval vernacular literatures of Wales and Ireland have been often neglected in comparative literary studies,¹ Arthurian Studies probably being the one major exception. However, these literatures participated in many pan-European trends and fashions through the translation and adaptation of foreign secular and religious literary sources. Cases in point are the story about Troy attributed to Dares Phrygius, narratives about Charlemagne, and the story of Mary of Egypt, all of which were translated into both Welsh and Irish. The Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtone(hereafterBoeve) also proved to be very successful in the island (or Insular) literatures of the British...

  11. 4 Bevers saga in the Context of Old Norse Historical Prose
    (pp. 51-66)

    In a forthcoming paper, I venture the following description of the difference between the Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtone(Boeve) and the Old NorseBevers saga(Bevers):¹

    Boeve, a form of dynastic entertainment in which some of the exoticism of the East was quite well-combined with the material and status interests of the local British aristocracy – quite gracefully mixed with satire and fun inherent in an oral poetic tradition – becomes inBeversan essentially more Christian chronology of one man’s life, in which the hero’s gradual regaining of material rights and enhancement of his personal status is more a feature of...

  12. 5 From Boeve to Bevis: The Translator at Work
    (pp. 67-79)

    To call the composer of the Middle English SirBevis of Hamptona ‘translator’ is not necessarily to imply that the text itself is a ‘translation’. Indeed, as Jennifer Fellows has pointed out, ‘Only to a limited extent canBevesaccurately be described as a translation ofBoeve.’¹ So what does it mean to describe the Middle English Bevis as a translation of the Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtone?

    The author (or authors) of Bevis used a much broader range of translational procedures than we tend to recognize. Lengthy passages are interpolated, while others are substantially cut or even omitted; changes...

  13. 6 The Middle English and Renaissance Bevis: A Textual Survey
    (pp. 80-113)

    In studying the history of the Bevis story in medieval and Renaissance England, one is confronted not by a single literary phenomenon but by several. The various redactions of the story in English must be considered not only in relation to the Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtone, their putative source,¹ but also in relation to one another; for the differences between them go beyond the lexical and stylistic to manifest varying attitudes towards the story and varying conceptions as to its meaning. While there are too many missing links in the transmission of the Middle English text for it to be...

  14. 7 For King and Country? The Tension between National and Regional Identities in Sir Bevis of Hampton
    (pp. 114-126)

    The discourse of national identity in medieval England has been the subject of much critical debate in the past decade. The publication in 1996 of Thorlac Turville-Petre’sEngland the Nationestablished the study of medieval English nationalism as a vibrant and important field of study, and numerous additions to the debate over the origins, development and nature of medieval notions of Englishness have appeared since. Important studies by scholars such as Siobhain Bly Calkin, Geraldine Heng, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Kathy Lavezzo illustrate the degree to which the study of nationalism has become embedded within the practice of medieval scholarship.¹...

  15. 8 Defining Christian Knighthood in a Saracen World: Changing Depictions of the Protagonist in Sir Bevis of Hampton
    (pp. 127-144)

    One of the most popular romances to circulate in Europe,¹Sir Bevis of Hamptonstands out for its many depictions of Saracen characters and settings. In narrating the exploits of an English hero, it repeatedly situates him, and develops his identity, in relation to the world in which he lives after having been sold to Saracens. Saracens raise Bevis, knight him and arm him; they communicate his universal desirability as son, lover and warrior; they serve under him and help him to reclaim his heritage and avenge his father’s murder; they also afford Bevis opportunities to manifest his exemplary Christianity....

  16. 9 Ascopard’s Betrayal: A Narrative Problem
    (pp. 145-160)

    Ascopard, the Saracen giant sent to retrieve Josian and kill Bevis, appears more than half-way through the Middle EnglishSir Bevis of Hamptonand is an intermittent presence for only about one-third of the whole.¹ But as Bevis’s ungainly page he is one of the memorable features of Bevis’s story: it is he whose painting was paired with Bevis’s at Southampton’s Bargate.² Whether he was remembered as an amusing marvel (like the horse Arundel) or a sinister threat (like Guy of Warwick’s long-remembered giant opponent Colbrand) is unclear but would in large part have depended on the slant given the...

  17. 10 Gender, Virtue and Wisdom in Sir Bevis of Hampton
    (pp. 161-175)

    Sir Bevis of Hamptonlooks in two directions: it is rooted in convention and nostalgia for the past and its ideals, yet it also offers new, often original, perspectives on and treatments of romance materials. It translates and adapts the twelfth-century Anglo-NormanBoeve de Haumtonebut is also firmly situated within the tradition of English romance: one of the group of celebrated romances in the Auchinleck MS, it was widely disseminated and remained popular into the eighteenth century.¹ WhileBevisreflects a growing nationalism in England, it has a more universal appeal, as is evident in its popularity on the...

  18. 11 Sir Bevis of Hampton: Renaissance Influence and Reception
    (pp. 176-192)

    Sir Bevis of Hamptonpresents an astonishing instance of persistence and later influence. Translated from the Anglo-Normanc. 1300, the poem was printed, in its essentially medieval text and as part of a continuous tradition of non-scholarly reading, from the incunable period until 1711. It was also read in manuscript during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the marks and annotations of readers attest.¹Bevisis therefore clearly part of the historical depth of the literary culture of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century England. Understanding how the text was received – and, in the context of its assimilation into new works, transformed – entails an...

  19. Bibliography of Bevis Scholarship
    (pp. 193-202)
  20. Index
    (pp. 203-207)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 208-208)