Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England

Article excerpt

Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England, ed. Corinne Saunders, Studies in Medieval Romance 2 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005). x + 193 pp. ISBN 1-84384-032-4. £45.00.

The essays in this volume, which are based on papers presented to the Eighth Biennial Conference on Romance in Medieval England, consider how romance reflects the convergence of cultures in post-Conquest Britain, a convergence exemplified, as Corinne Saunders's introduction argues, by the combination of classical, Celtic, and English materials in the Middle English Sir Orfeo. Phillipa Hardman and Ivana Djordjevic examine Middle English versions of earlier Anglo-Norman texts. Hardman offers a defence of the Middle English adaptation of the Anglo-Norman Tristran, arguing that many oft-criticized changes made by die translator/adaptor result from the construction of meaning, while Djordjevic, who examines the depiction of marriage in the Middle English translation of the Anglo-Norman Boeve de Haumtone, shows how changes in emphasis can arise from mistaken assumptions resulting from cultural distance. Changing significance is also important in Torrent of Portyngale, a text which, as Roger Dalrymple demonstrates, uses inherited romance motifs to explore not only the traditional themes of masculinity, family relationships, and social status but also, more unexpectedly, the theme of ascesis. The relationship between romance and history is a constant concern of this collection. Tony Davenport details the gradual accretion of romance elements to the chronicle accounts of the West Saxon king Ine (history in the process of turning into romance), while Helen Cooper's essay on Thomas of Ercledoune demonstrates the infinite capacity, both of romance and of prophecy, to adapt to historical developments. …

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