The Challenge of the Medieval Text: Studies in Genre and Interpretation

By W. T. H. Jackson; Joan M. Ferrante et al. | Go to book overview

to a literary type, particularly such a well-defined type as the boasting soldier. It was the definition of that type by the Greeks and its later modifications by the Roman comedy and mime which provided subsequent literary tradition with the material with which it had to work. The matter ceases to be social and becomes typological. It becomes established in the popular and literary mind and can be relied upon to produce certain reactions in an audience merely by association. As such the type becomes timeless, one of the aspects of the human comedy which are ever present. But for effective use in literature it must be brought into relationship with the vital themes of its time. And this is why we must speak of Pyrgopolinices converted. For it is as the miles antichristianus that he appears. His characteristics suited so perfectly the picture of the soldier lost to all Christian virtues causing by his wickedness grief to the martyrs and anguish to the faithful. Brought into the drama to act as a foil to Christian virtue, he grows and flourishes until he monopolizes the attention whenever he is on the stage. For the boasting soldier in medieval literature represented then as he does now that desire to see the collapse of "those sanguine cowards and abominable misleaders of youth," as the most famous of them all was called. For Falstaff, Shakespeare created sympathy, but for the medieval braggart soldier there was little but mockery and contempt. He paid the penalty of his opposition to the church by earning the hatred of all good Christians and the penalty of his character in the laughter which accompanied his inevitable collapse.


NOTES
1.
H. Reich, Der Mimus ( Berlin, 1903).
2.
See for example the stage direction in the text of the Visitatio of Sainte Chapelle in Paris: "Surgant milites, si ibidem fuerint et faciant quod eis bonum faciendum." In K. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933), I:288.
3.
F. Preissls, Hroswitha von Gandersheim und die Entstehung des mittelatterlichen Heldenbildes. "Erlanger Arbeiten zur deutschen Literatur", vol. 12 ( 1939).
4.
The story is based upon the "De Sanctis sororibus Agape, Chionia, et Irene", to be found in Acta Sanctorum ( Paris, 1866), Aprilis 1:245-50.
5.
Especially the French ones.
6.
See Ulrich von Zatzikoven, Lanzelet, Webster and Loomis, tr. ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1951), note 99 and the references therein.

-153-

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The Challenge of the Medieval Text: Studies in Genre and Interpretation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Publications xiii
  • One Courtly Love 1
  • I - The De Amore of Andreas Capellanus and the Practice of Love at Court 3
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Faith Unfaithful--The German Reaction to Courtly Love 14
  • Notes 33
  • Two - Lyric 35
  • 3 - Contrast Imagery in the Poems of Friedrich Von Hausen 37
  • Note 48
  • 4 - Persona and Audience in Two Medieval Love-Lyrics 49
  • Note 65
  • 5 - The Medieval Pastourelle as a Satirical Genre 66
  • Notes 79
  • 6 - The Politics of a Poet: The Archipoeta as Revealed by His Imagery 81
  • Notes 101
  • Three - Epic and Drama 103
  • 7 - The Epic Center as Structural Determinant in Medieval Narrative Poetry 105
  • Note 124
  • 8 - Time and Space in the Ludus De Antichristo 125
  • Notes 142
  • Pyrgopolinices Converted: The Boasting Soldier in Medieval German Literature 144
  • Notes 153
  • Four - Allegory and Romance 155
  • 10 - Allegory and Allegorization 157
  • Note 171
  • II - The Nature of Romance 172
  • Notes 182
  • 12 - Problems of Communication in the Romances of Chrétien De Troyes 185
  • Note 196
  • 13 - The Arthuricity of Marie De France 197
  • Notes 217
  • 14 - The Progress of Parzival and the Trees of Virtue and Vice 218
  • Notes 225
  • 15 - The Literary Views of Gottfried Von Strassburg 226
  • Notes 246
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