Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Retelling the Tale: An Introduction to Medieval French Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Retelling the Tale: An Introduction to Medieval French Literature

Article excerpt

Simon Gaunt, Retelling the Tale: An Introduction to Medieval French Literature (London: Duckworth, 2001). 160 pp. ISBN 0-7156-2925-5. £11.99.

This book does not set out to be a conventional literary history or work of reference, but a short introduction aimed primarily at the modern student who has no real notion of the medieval world or of modern critical preoccupations concerning the literature that it produced. The main point that Simon Gaunt wishes to get across is that literature in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, to which he confines himself, was characterized by the constant recasting of stories, so that any simple preconceptions the reader might have of fixity or of authorship, even where it is stated within a text, can be misleading. He first, though, considers whether poems such as the Oxford Roland and Béroul's Tristan belong to an essentially oral or written culture, and comes down in favour of the latter. Despite references to both oral and written sources within Marie de France's Lais, they too belong to a written culture in which orality is merely fictional and part of a rhetorical ploy. Looking beyond the superficial problem of Marie's identity, Gaunt also explores the question of female authorship and authority within two of the lais, L'Aüstic and Chaitivel. In both of them he finds 'the expropriation of a woman's text by a man' (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.