Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La Demoiselle Arthurienne: ÉCriture Du Personnage et Art Du Récit Dans Les Romans En Prose Du XIIIe Siècle

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La Demoiselle Arthurienne: ÉCriture Du Personnage et Art Du Récit Dans Les Romans En Prose Du XIIIe Siècle

Article excerpt

Bénédicte Milland-Bove, La Demoiselle arthurienne: Écriture du personnage et art du récit dans les romans en prose du XIIIe siècle, Nouvelle Bibliothèque du Moyen Âge 79 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2006). 676 pp. ISBN 2-7453-1379-7. euro100.00.

The motivation behind this book comes from two parallel observations: the abundance of maidens (or demoiselles) in Arthurian romances and the lack of a study dedicated solely to this figure. Taking as her corpus three thirteenth-century prose texts (namely, the Lancelot en prose, the Tristan en prose, and the Perlesvaus), Bénédicte MUland-Bove sets out to provide an in-depth account of the demoiselle's structural importance within these vast works. The book is divided into two main sections, the first focusing on the demoiselle as a literary 'type'. This section is further subdivided into three chapters, with the first a painstaking study of the various denominations of the figure within the text. This chapter, like much of this book, sadly lacks concision and proves quite heavy going for the reader, with a swathe of examples spread over more than seventy pages yielding but two principal observations: first, that the term 'pucele' gradually disappears in favour of 'damoisele', and second, that maidens are rarely blessed with a name of their own and are generally little described. However, in the next two chapters (on the demoiselle's speech and role in the development of the plot respectively), and indeed throughout the rest of the book, the careful attention paid to the aesthetics of prose writing represents the work's key contribution to research on Arthurian literature. Thus the author is able to conclude in the third chapter that prose's dislike for sudden, unmotivated changes of direction leads it to make use of maidens to provide seamless transition between episodes by leading knights errant from one challenge to the next. …

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