Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Jean Wauquelin: La Belle Helene De Constantinople: Mise En Prose D'une Chanson De Geste

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Jean Wauquelin: La Belle Helene De Constantinople: Mise En Prose D'une Chanson De Geste

Article excerpt

Jean Wauquelin: La Belle Helene de Constantinople: mise en prose d'une chanson de geste, edition critique par Marie-Claude de Crecy, Textes litteraires francais 547 (Geneva: Droz, 2002). clxxxi + 659 pp. ISBN 2-600-00650-8. Sw. Fr. 130.00.

Jean Wauquelin's mise en prose of the anonymous fourteenth-century verse text La Belle Helene de Constantinople was produced in or after 1448 for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. It exists in just one principal manuscript version, now BR 9967 in the Bibliotheque royale in Brussels. In this, an entirely welcome first critical edition of the manuscript, Marie-Claude de Crecy takes immense scholarly care to place the work in its socio-political, linguistic, and cultural contexts. Almost half of this sizeable volume is taken up with masterly critical apparatus: as well as an etude litteraire (see below), the editor supplies a detailed etude linguistique and impressively full glossary to supplement her transcription (which is, as far as one can judge without de Crecy's far-reaching knowledge of the base manuscript, sound). Some valuable new information on the manuscript is included in the introductory material: contrary to received wisdom, the Brussels codex is unlikely, because of mistakes in the transcription of Latin, to be a Wauquelin autograph; and the Burgundian author's source-text is not considered, as it has previously been, to be Arras BM 766. Perhaps, though, the most useful element of de Crecy's critical apparatus is a refreshingly lucid analyse of the story's plot. Despite Wauquelin's assertion in his first rubric that this is simply 'l'ystoire de Helayne, mere de saint Martin dc Tours . …

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