Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Present De Marie

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Present De Marie

Article excerpt

Milena Mikhailova, Le Pre,rent de Marie (Paris, New York and Amsterdam: Diderot, I996). z98 pp. ISBN z-84I34-o6o-o. F. Fr. Iz 5.

It may not be immediately apparent to many readers that the reference in the title of this volume is to a line in the Prologue of Marie de France's Lais, in which she offers her poems as a gift (`present) to the king. Marie's twin actions, described in the Prologue, of collecting material and then presenting the result are used by Milena Mikhailova as the key to a reading of the entire corpus. In each of the Lais some form of assembling, uniting or separating is found, as well as an aspect of giving, such as a symbolic gift, a reward, a loved one, or a pardon. Giving is linked to fecundity (e.g. the birth of offspring, the spilling of the potion in Les Deux Amant, and to the concept of generosity. It is seen to reach its fullest expression in the fairy's actions in Lanval, a poem which is interpreted as a metaphor for Marie's own act of writing, and this in turn is linked to the `granz biens' of the Prologue. Writing confers immortality on the participants in the stories, and echoes of this gift are also to be found at the end of Chaitivel and Chevrefoil.

As the whole argument of this book sets out from an initial premise, Mikhailova's structuralist-inspired analysis leads her to make the chapters on the individual poems a rather wearisome theme-and-variations demonstration of the possibilities of interpretation of the ideas found in the Prologue. She nevertheless displays considerable versatility in this exercise, and there are many thought-provoking observations concerning narrative patterns, parallels, reversals, symbolism, word-play, names and titles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.