Academic journal article Medium Aevum

'Les Prophéties De Merlin' En Prose: Le Roman Arthurien En éClats

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

'Les Prophéties De Merlin' En Prose: Le Roman Arthurien En éClats

Article excerpt

Nathalie Koble, 'Les Prophéties de Merlin' en prose: Le Roman arthurien en éclats (Paris: Champion, 2009). 590 pp. ISBN 9782-7453-1829-9. euro100.00.

The late thirteenth-century Prophesies de Merlin is currendy available in editions by Lucy A. Paton and Anne Berthelot. Paton's 1920s edition, based on Rennes, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 593, privileges the prophetic utterances of Merlin; Berthelot's 1992 edition, based on a manuscript unavailable to Paton (Geneva, Foundation Martin Bodmer, codex Bodmer 118), gives the romance frame to the prophecies, telling the tale of their enunciation and transcription. Nathalie Koble's work of scholarly analysis stands as a companion to her own edition of the Prophesies, described as 'à paraître en 2009' in the bibliography, yet which seems still not to have made an appearance at the time of writing of this review (June 2010). This is regrettable for three reasons. First, the references to the Prophesies given in this study are to Koble's own edition, making her argument at times slighdy difficult to follow. Secondly, Koble's reading of the Prophesies makes a compelling case for establishing a new edition of this fascinating work of prose romance. And thirdly, Koble's subde and comprehensive scholarship is bound to open the text up to renewed interest.

Koble's work is divided into three long sections: the first deals with the romance elements of the Prophesies, tracing the relationship between the text and the Arthurian cycles of the thirteenth century. The Prophesies, she argues, writes itself into cyclicity, if not into a particular cycle. This is a text which implicitly proposes itself as a continuation of earlier Merlin texts; and Koble treats this complex tradition with clarity. The second part concerns the treatment of time by the Prophesies. A meticulous examination of the interlace of prophecy and romance is offered, along with an analysis of the interesting effects this creates, as moments in pre-existing Arthurian chronology are dilated, and an intricate exchange is established between characters' past and future. …

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