Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature

Article excerpt

Simon Gaunt, Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature, Cambridge Studies in French 5 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). x + 372 pp. ISBN 052I-464-943. L40.00.

Simon Gaunt offers an exceptionally wide-ranging study, covering Northern French and Occitan texts. He explores the dialogical relationship of genres in the treatment of gender models as the authors react not only to the models of masculinity and femininity within the genre but also across the genres. The study opens with an introduction to Gaunt's 'eclectic' theoretical premises, which also serves as an introduction to feminist and genre theory, aimed at undergraduates as well as specialist scholars. This is not an easy read for undergraduates but provides an excellent summary of some modern critical theory as applied to medieval literature. The chapter on the chanson de geste focuses mainly on the Oxford Roland, the Paris Roland, Ami et ile and the Occitan Daurel et Beton, the last rarely included in general writing on the genre. If much of what Gaunt writes about here, for example, the centrality of the male couple in the Oxford Roland or the need to read Roland's character in relation to Ganelon's, has been said before, it has not often been written, or not with the emphasis Gaunt gives it. There follows a clear analysis of how the characters are re-worked in the Paris Roland, presented as a medieval reading of the assonanced text. …

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