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

overwhelming odds and results in the death of the lovers. The French prose versions show this attitude in its crudest form, while the poem of Gottfried von Strassburg is its most subtle exploitation, for here the weakness of the courtly morality is exposed not by opposing it to a highly religious love concept but by demonstrating the simple inability of a society allegedly organized for love and adventure to comprehend love when it is expressed in terms higher than purely sensual attraction. Gottfried shatters the whole romance conception by showing its adventures to be self-seeking and hollow pretence and its love-service little more than vulgar intrigue. 16

In discussing the romance we are faced, as we said at the beginning of this essay, with a paradox. The romance as a genre developed a life of its own and certain rules by which its deliberately unreal life was to be governed. It also pursued as its principal motifs the pointless combat and love-service, both of no significance in a socially oriented genre. Yet when these game-rules were established, the way was open for them to be interpreted in any way an author chose and the great writers of romance chose, for the most part, to study individual behavior by setting it in the unreal world of the romance and showing how, by rising above the rules of the genre, the human being could fulfill himself, for the romance is the genre of the individual. It should not surprise us that critics have found much to allegorize in the romance, for it is the verbum in one of its many shapes.


NOTES
1.
Quintilian comes closest to the idea of an allegorical genre, since he insists that allegoria is continuous metaphor uninterrupted by clarification. Institutio oratoria, ed. Rademacher, viii44.
2.
The subject is treated in great detail by Jean Pépin, Mythe et allégorie: les origines grecques et les contestations judéo-chrétiennes ( Paris, 1958). See also the treatment of various kinds of beauty recognized by medieval writers set out by Edgar de Bruyne, Etudes d'esthétique médiévale, Rijksuniversiteit te Gent, Werke uitgegeven door de Faculteit van de Wijsbegeerte en Letteren, 97-99, 3 vols. ( Bruges, 1946), pp. 213 ff.; and especially the following: "atque in hunc modum noster animus ex propria natura docetur quod visibilia ad invisibilia cognationem habent et similitudinem et quod ipsa visibilia imagines sunt et simulacra eorum quae visibiliter videri non possunt." Classical Greek and Latin criticism, which was chiefly concerned with the two factors of mimesis and rhetoric, does not stress

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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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