Academic journal article Medium Aevum

'Tristan De Nanteuil': Ecriture et Imaginaire éPiques Au XIVe Siécle

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

'Tristan De Nanteuil': Ecriture et Imaginaire éPiques Au XIVe Siécle

Article excerpt

Alban Georges, 'Tristan de Nanteuil': Écriture et imaginaire épiques au XIVe siècle, Nouvelle Bibliothèque du Moyen Age 80 (Paris: Champion, 2006). 750 pp. ISBN 978- 2- 7453- 141 5- 4. euro125.00.

In his comprehensive study of the fourteenth-century epic poem Nanteuil, Alban Georges builds upon scholarship which views the late de geste not as monstrosities or examples of a dead genre, but as coherent texts bearing familiar though modified structures and motifs. The complex narrative, rich imaginary, and abundant transformations which characterize Tristan de Nanteuil attest to the increasing influence of other genres and changing tastes, but do not denote a break with epic traditions. Georges first examines the composition and narrative structures of the poem. The Tristan de Nanteuil poet demonstrates masterful knowledge of the characters, places, and events of the epic cycle, carefully inserting his work between Aye d'Avignon and Parise la Duchesse. Unlike these earlier texts, however, the bulk of Tristan deNanteuiltak.es places in the Near East, a land at once dangerous, exotic, and fertile. Georges shows that although the poem extends over fifty years and is divided into three large periods separated by significant gaps, the poet is precise in his intricate internal ordering, displaying a mastery of chronology one seldom finds in the thirteenth-century chansons.

While Tristan de Nan teul is well grounded in the features of the chanson de geste, Georges argues, the poet also breathes new life into the tradition. A lengthy analysis of the laisse reveals variation and decline of certain aspects of strophic writing but virtuosity in working with the genre's formal aspects. Following J. P. Martin's study of twelfth- and thirteenth-century epic, Georges classifies the motifs of Tristan de Nanteuil as usurpation, battle, prison, Saracens, prayer, and miracles. To these the poet adds monstrous, spectacular, comic, and subversive elements. …

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