Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Girart d'Amiens: 'Escanor'. Roman Arthurien En Vers De la Fin Du XIIIe Siècle

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Girart d'Amiens: 'Escanor'. Roman Arthurien En Vers De la Fin Du XIIIe Siècle

Article excerpt

Girart d'Amiens: 'Escanor'. Roman arthurien en vers de la fin du XIIIe siècle, ed. Richart Trachsler, 2 vols, Textes littéraires français 449 (Geneva: Droz, 1994). 1085 pp. ISBN 2-600-00039-9. F· Fr. 528.

This edition is the first to be published since that of H. Michelant (Tübingen, 1886). In its present state the poem runs to some 26,000 octosyllabics, to which two sizeable lacunae in the middle of the story would have added a further 1200 lines. Escanor dates from c. 1280, which makes it one of the last Arthurian verse romances and roughly contemporaneous with Jean de Meun's continuation of the Roman de la Rose. Composed for Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, it now survives in only one manuscript, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS f. fr. 24374, two other small fragments having been lost, one after 1843, other since 1952. Fortunately the text of these fragments had been recorded before their disappearance.

There are basically two narrative strands running through the poem, the one constructed around Kay, the other around Gauvain, and as the poem progresses these two strands become intertwined. The portrayal of Kay represents a broadening of the image of the sarcastic buffoon that we encounter in Chrétien, although he still retains a robust tongue, manifests ill-temper, readily expresses a jaundiced view of life, and is at times the butt of teasing. He takes up the challenge to participate in a tournament organized by the king of Northumberland for the hand in marriage of his daughter Andrivete. The tournament proves indecisive, but Kay and Andrivete fall in love, and have to pass through many vicissitudes before eventually marrying at the end of the text. Gauvain's role also draws on his earlier portrayals, but he is cleansed of the poor reputation that texts such as the Queste had accorded him. …

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