Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Bel Inconnu De Renaut De Beaujeu: Rite, Mythe et Roman

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Bel Inconnu De Renaut De Beaujeu: Rite, Mythe et Roman

Article excerpt

Philippe Walter, Le Bel Inconnu de Renaut de Beaujeu: Rite, mythe et roman (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1996). xii + 356 pp. ISBN z-13-048o896. F. Fr. I68.oo.

This is a study of the mythological strata embedded in Renaut de Beaujeu's romance, a version of the tale of the Fair Unknown, written at the turn of the thirteenth century. The Fair Unknown was a tale with which a number of Chretien's romances interact, as does also the Prose Lancelot, among other romances, and of which the English Lybeaus Desconus, Malory's Sir Gareth, the German Wigalois, and the Italian Carduino also provide versions (it is a little surprising that there is no reference to Claude Luttrell's The Creation of the FirstArthurian Romance: A,Quest (London, 1974), which discusses the relationship between these versions). Philippe Walter's aim is to uncover the layers of ancient myth which lie beneath Renaut's romance, but at the same time to emphasize the creative transformation of such material in courtly romance.

He maintains that elements from Indo-European myths (he lays particular stress on the Celtic versions of these) survive in a Christianized and often fragmented form in medieval saints' lives and, above all, in the rites associated with certain dates in the religious calendar (often replacing pagan festivals) and with certain places; such material would also form part of medieval folklore, and much of it would have been familiar to the early thirteenthcentury audience for courtly romance. …

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