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

13
The Arthuricity of
Marie de France

HE WORKS OF Marie de France have suffered a fate at the hands of critics which is not uncommon when the author is regarded as being not quite of the first rank. They are used to make comparisons. Her fables are compared with the "Romulus" collection and with those of Alexander Neckham, her Purgatoire St. Patriz with versions in Latin, and her Lais, inevitably, with Arthurian romances. Marie has only herself to blame for the last of these critical positions. She constantly uses the word "Bretons" and "li Breton" in her lais, and it was therefore inevitable that the Celticists should ransack her work for analogues. They are not hard to find, but their discovery answers no questions. We must still ask where she found them and how conscious she was of their presence in the Arthurian romances, particularly those of Chrétien de Troyes, for they are the only extant French Arthurian romances (I exclude Wace from the list) which she could have known. The usual explanation of "a common source" is of no value. It does not throw any light on her relation to the romance as opposed to the raw materials. If we wish to compare her work with the romances, we should rather find out how she uses its genre conventions and what we somewhat loosely term the Arthurian ethic. It is to this point that this paper will be devoted and specifically to an examination of the most Arthurian of her lais, Lanval.

Before this more specific study, however, it might be helpful to characterize some of the general features of the lais. Most of them are concerned with sexual love, often with love that results in tragedy--Laüistic, Yonec, Les Deux Amants--or in long separation--Guigemer, Eliduc, Milon,

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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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