During the last centuries of Byzantium, as in earlier periods when the romance had flourished, there existed no generic term specific to this kind of writing. From a historical perspective it is easy enough to identify a body of texts of the period which tell fictional tales of love and adventure and betray some generic affiliation with the twelfth-century love romances or the chivalric romances of the West, or in some degree with both. The contemporary term for such writing, which derives from the rhetorical exercises of the progymnasmata that were still being produced in the fourteenth century, is diegesis () or, less commonly, diegema ( , tale). but this term is applied to almost all narrative in the vernacular, and in the final chapter we shall be looking at some forms of narrative which reveal the influence of the contemporary romance without, in our own terms, being truly classifiable as romances. To what extent writers and readers, or audiences, were aware of the generic distinction we cannot be certain. There is, as we shall see, an impressive degree of cohesion among the romances of love and adventure, both thematically and stylistically, which suggests an implicit awareness of a common genre. But it may be that the writers of our period had a more open-ended concept of the genre in which they were working than is assumed here. Similarly, in the West the term roman at first meant ‘anything written in a Latin-based [Romance] vernacular’, and only gradually became a generic term. 1
The romances of the Palaiologan period, so defined, divide naturally into two groups: those composed in Greek, and those translated or adapted from a Western language. The first of these groups, the five original romances, will be the subject of this and the following chapter and will be considered under three headings: text, story, and narrative structure. By the first of these I mean the texts of the romances viewed externally, and will include under this heading questions of authorship, date of composition, and textual transmission. This is in fact the aspect on which most of the available secondary literature has tended to concentrate. The distinction between story and narrative is adopted after Gérard Genette, who is one of a number of theoretical writers on narrative to emphasize the difference in kind between
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Publication information: Book title: The Medieval Greek Romance. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Roderick Beaton - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 101.
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