Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Villon at Oxford: The Drama of the Text. Proceedings of the Conference Held at St Hilda's College

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Villon at Oxford: The Drama of the Text. Proceedings of the Conference Held at St Hilda's College

Article excerpt

Villon at Oxford: The Drama of the Text. Proceedings of the Conference Held at St Hilda's College, Oxford, March 1906, ed. Michael Freeman and Jane H. M. Taylor, Faux Titre 165 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999). iv + 391 pp. ISBN 90-420-0475-4. $66.50.

While some of the fifteen contributions to this volume resemble typical conference papers in their concision (Tony Hunt) or marked orality (David Mus), others have taken on considerably greater length and depth (Jean-Claude Muhlcthaler). The resulting combination provides a fine sample of the current state of Villon scholarship, marked by an overwhelming move away from the historicizing predilections of earlier generations. Emblematic of this is Jane Taylor's enthralling and persuasive reading of the 'Ballade des seigneurs du temps jadis' as a deliberately allusive and elusive exercise in incoherence.

A critical mass of the most noteworthy contributions is constituted by papers dealing with the relationship of Villon's work to other texts. Reception is addressed in Richard Cooper's richly documented survey of testamentary literature of the Renaissance, in Mus's consideration of Villon's influence on Du Bellay in particular, and in Kenneth Varty's description, complete with useful appendices, of Villon-inspired work by A. Paul Weber. Parallels with contemporary works are explored by Adrian Armstrong, who convincingly argues for affinities between Villon and the grands rhetoriqueurs, and by Muhlethaler, who sees Villon as comparable to Adam de la Halle and Charles d'Orleans in the way in which the barrier posed to self-expression by the unreliability of language becomes a vehicle for poetic creation. …

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