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  • L’‘Historia regum Britannie’ et les ‘Bruts’ en Europe, I: Traductions, adaptations, réappropriations (XIIe–XVIe siècle) par Hélène Tétrel et Géraldine Veysseyre
  • Maud Becker
L’‘Historia regum Britannie’ et les ‘Bruts’ en Europe, I: Traductions, adaptations, réappropriations (XIIe–XVIe siècle). Sous la direction d’Hélène Tétrel et Géraldine Veysseyre. (Rencontres, 106; Civilisation médiévale, 12.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2015. 368 pp.

This volume collects the debates of a group of scholars from the Brest colloquium of 2012, which aimed to offer a new approach to the European historiographical tradition emerging from and influenced by the Historia regum Britannie of Geoffroy of Monmouth. The chronicles resulting from the process of adaptation and translation are generally called Bruts, but can also be used to complete wider texts—such as in the fourth redaction of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (Richard Trachsler). The reception of the Historia regum Britannie varied greatly, as the French adapters tended, at least in the early chronicles, to perceive Geoffroy’s text as proper history, while it has been met with a critical reception among insular chroniclers (Jaakko Tahkokallio). Nevertheless, the will to integrate it in universal chronicles still persisted. The adaptations of the Historia regum Britannie, however, are not limited to the genre of the chronicle: it also has served as material for vernacular romances and epic poems (Laurence Mathey-Maille, Beatrice Barbieri), and its adaptations have often been completed with Enfances texts, especially with regard to the legend of King Arthur (Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan). The Historia regum Britannie is at the root of a unique set of medieval literature, and this volume offers insight into some of the less-known derivations, such as the Welsh tradition (Brynley F. Roberts, Pierre-Yves Lambert); the Icelandic sagas found under the name Breta Sögur (Svanhildur Óskarsd ottir, Regina Jucknies); or some specific episodes, such as the Merlin prophecies, which found their own success in various countries (this is the case not just with French medieval literature, but also in late Spanish knightly romance (Alejandro Casais)). It is not only the prolific influence of this text that is exemplified in this volume, but also the importance of the transmission of the manuscripts containing various adaptations, and the marks different versions can leave in the further tradition (Mathey-Maille, Lambert, Roberts). The result of this particular type of circulation is of course an ample tradition, which exists not [End Page 587] only in its own right, but can also be inserted in broader compilations, translated and modified at will. Often, from this kind of modification an amplified material will emerge, whose ties with the original text became quite loose to the point of asking if these texts can still be considered as Bruts at all (Heather Pagan). Their study can shed light on the work of the compilers and translators, who are sometimes renowned for their work and technique (Olivier Szerwiniack, Anne Salamon, Lloyd-Morgan), and how they can be linked to and reveal the cultural background of the time of the new texts’ composition (Jucknies, Françoise Le Saux). A substantial bibliography completes this volume, which is a first step towards a greater consideration of the diffusion and the means of adaptation of such a major text.

Maud Becker
Aberystwyth University


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pp. 587-588
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