Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Bloodless Genealogies of the French Middle Ages: Translatio, Kinship, and Metaphor

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Bloodless Genealogies of the French Middle Ages: Translatio, Kinship, and Metaphor

Article excerpt

Zrinka Stahuljak, Bloodless Genealogies of the French Middle Ages: Translatio, Kinship, and Metaphor (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005). 242 pp; 4 illustrations. ISBN 0-8130-2862-0. $65.00.

The otherness inherent in any metaphorical equation is itself susceptible to metaphorical characterization. Indeed, as this meditation on twelfth- and thirteenth-century representations of continuity shows, within a given culture or period, diverse and even contradictory depictions of metaphor might be found. It is conceivable diat competing interest groups could have imagined these variations for strategic reasons. Zrinka Stahuljak approaches these larger issues through the discours of patrilineal genealogy and the representation of kinship structures in the romans antiques, a number of the Grail romances, various depictions of translatio, and visual representations of the tree of Jesse. The historical significance of her findings would seem to be neady summed up in a sentence quoted here out of context: The secular and the religious are bound together in the struggle for control over social representations and regulations, the Church promoting kinship by spirit and the laity promoting kinship by blood' (p. 139). The struggle in question manifests itself at each stage of Stahuljak's analysis as the tension between the material continuity that bloodlines are presumed to supply and filiations and social alliances that are constructed entirely through language. In the Roman d'Eneas, for example, the restoration of Troy in the founding of Rome is read as a purgatorial process that attempts unsuccessfully to repress, among other things, the failures of Eneas' ancestors, figurative disruptions in the Trojan genealogical line, and Eneas' own patricidal tendencies. …

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