Academic journal article Medium Aevum

An Introduction to the Chansons De Geste

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

An Introduction to the Chansons De Geste

Article excerpt

Catherine M. Jones, An Introduction to the Chansons de Geste, with a foreword by R. Barton Palmer and Tison Pugh (Gainesville, Fla: University Press of Florida, 2014). xvi + 218 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-4989-2. $69.95 (hard covers); $21.95 (p/b).

Why should a modern reader delve into Old French epic songs? Catherine M. Jones's volume on chansons de geste is modelled on a question which, mutatis mutandis, every medievalist can relate to. This book's purpose is to introduce non-specialist readers to Old French epic tradition and make them recognize in it 'modes of conflict that continue to surface in the modern world' (p. xi).

Jones's teaching experience is evident: the style, the structure, and the choice of contents make her agile volume both clear and informative. The first chapter provides an overview of the genre's stylistic features and addresses the issues of origins, sources, and reception by presenting a balanced view of the ongoing scholarly debate. The texts are the volume's core: after a chapter outlining the content of most chansons and their cycles, Jones analyses in depth six very different songs: La Chanson de Roland, Le Charroi de Nîmes, La Prise d'Orange, Raoul de Cambrai, Ami et Amile, and Huon de Bordeaux. This selection is instrumental in drawing a varied picture of the genre, with each text illustrating particular styles, narrative topoi, and themes. …

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