Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Plaire et Edifier: Les Recits Hagiographiques Composes En Angleterre Aux XIIe et XIIIe Siecles

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Plaire et Edifier: Les Recits Hagiographiques Composes En Angleterre Aux XIIe et XIIIe Siecles

Article excerpt

FranCoise Laurent, Plaire et edifler. les recits hagiographiques composer en Angleterre aux XIIe et XIIIe siecles, Nouvelle Bibliotheque du moyen age 45 (Paris: Champion, 1998). 630 pp. ISBN 2-85203-822-6. F. Fr. 480.00.

Francoise Laurent's study of Anglo-Norman hagiography, a revised version of her doctoral thesis of 1995, analyses vernacular lives written in Normandy as well as in England. Laurent has chosen a subset of lives, and although one could quibble over the criteria used for selection, the twenty-five lives included (of Margaret, Nicholas, Lawrence, Edward the Confessor (two versions), Thais, Giles, Thomas of Canterbury by Benoit, Catherine, Edmond the Martyr (two versions), George, Osith, Faith, Modwenna, Andrew, Audrey, Barlaam and Josaphat, Eustace, John the Almsgiver, Mary Magdalene, the Seven Sleepers, Alban, Edmond Rich, and Richard) constitute almost half of the extant lives written in England.

Laurent focuses on the adaptation of the Latin sources, and four of the five parts of the study rehearse, sometimes slightly repetitively, the rhetorical methods used by the vernacular writers. Part I deals with the status, presence, and function of the narrator, seen in epilogues and prologues, as well as in direct engagements by the narrator with the audience through a variety of rhetorical means which are used to structure the narrative. Part II studies techniques used to express the didactic content, such as expansions on moral lessons and biblical references which are often only implied in Latin. Part III deals with vernacular techniques used to make the ideological content of the Latin narratives more concrete through the creation of dialogues and dramatic scenes. Part IV examines the way in which writers borrowed from other vernacular genres to transform the often interchangeable saints of their Latin sources into individualized contemporary medieval military or courtly heroes. …

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