Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Article excerpt

Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath, Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England, Gallica 26 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer; Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, 2012). xvii + 209 pp. ISBN 978-1-84384-313-9. £50.00.

While the authorizing strategies of late medieval vernacular poets have gained increasing attention in the past several decades, allegory has rarely been ascribed a role in them. This is in part because of allegory's association with scriptural exegesis, which points not to human but divine authorship. Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath's Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England, however, puts allegory at the centre of these discussions, persuasively arguing for a tradition 'spanning late medieval French and English literature [that] invites interpretation of the authors engaged in its production and of their relationships to one another' (p. 2). Identifying the Roman de la Rose as the point of origin for this tradition, Kamath's thesis is built around the complex use of the first-person voice in the Rose, in which (to give one key example) the narrator claims to be the poem's author and, at the same time, is the protagonist of the dream allegory. Exploiting the duality of allegory, the Rose thus makes the identity of the poem's author one of the subjects for interpretation by readers. In four closely argued chapters, Kamath demonstrates that a group of French and English vernacular poets - Guillaume de Deguileville, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, Christine de Pizan, and John Lydgate - adapt the Rose's strategies in order to make the discovery of authorial identity part of the hermeneutic task of allegorical reading and to situate their poetry within a literary lineage. Signalling their engagement with the Rose - or Awe-inspired allegories - through citation, allusion, and translation, these authors deploy to various ends three particular features of the Rose which form the core of Kamath's discussions in each of the chapters: authorial naming, the conception of authorship as service to a deity, and the use of embedded texts to figure the external process of the text's composition. …

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