Healing and Love Magic in Old French Romance
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Penn State University Press
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I incurred many debts both professional and personal during the completion of this project. Without interlibrary loan, this book would not exist. I would like to thank the library staffs of Erskine College, of Florida Atlantic University at campuses in Jupiter and Boca Raton, and of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In particular, Brenda Rodgers at St. Mary’s provided seemingly endless patient and careful attention to my many requests...
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Pop songs, television programs, and other forms of popular culture in our world today are replete with representations of romantic love as a form of intoxication, the beloved woman as capable of either bewitching or healing, and the idea that a couple’s love will result in a lifelong bond and happiness. Although we might assume that these notions have been with us for all time, I seek to determine how, where, and when they arose and how they came to be a part of the social construct of love...
1. Background Considerations
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This chapter provides material on several topics that are necessary for the analyses that follow. The first section gives a general framework for the institutions and practices of medieval medicine and magic so that the reader has a context for specific episodes in the romances. The second section briefly discusses the marvelous in order to make clear the distinction between it and magic, since the two are easily conflated...
2. On Artifice and Realism: Thessala in Chretien de Troyes’s Cliges
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Chrétien de Troyes’s Cligés has a reputation for raising more questions than it answers, in part because it contrasts so sharply with the author’s other works. The central portion of the narrative recounts the love of Cligés and Fenice and the work of Fenice’s handmaiden, Thessala, whose efforts enable the couple to realize their dream of marrying each other. Thessala’s engagement in both healing and love magic makes an ideal place to open our inquiry...
3. Tristan and Iseut: Beyond a Symbolic Reading of Empirical Practice
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As we saw in the last chapter, a careful analysis of Clig�s in light of the knowledge and practices of healing and love magic in the late twelfth century allows for a recuperation of the character Thessala from a fantastic or implausible status. Establishing a context for her knowledge and actions reveals that they are entirely in keeping with empirics in a time that did not make a clear distinction between magic and medicine. In this world very few universityor school-trained doctors existed...
4. Tristan and Iseut: Empirical Practice Amidst Competing Claims
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As we saw in the previous chapter, reading the episodes of healing and love magic as empirical practices common in the high Middle Ages offers new insight into Thomas’s Tristan. Such a reading establishes both Iseut and her mother as competent, well-respected practitioners who use their healing skills to help Tristan. Iseut’s mother also practices love magic in an attempt to positively influence her daughter’s future...
5. Love and Medicine in the Roman de Silence
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The complex set of Tristan materials analyzed in the previous two chapters continues to play a role in the works that come after them. The nature and import of that role will be the subject of the two chapters to come. We have seen that although the versions of Thomas and B�roul and the Folie Tristan de Berne differ in emphasis, they all reflect the domain of empirical practice in the high Middle Ages...
6. Reworked Elements in Amadas et Ydoine
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We saw in the last chapter a beloved, Euphemie, who heals a wounded knight from a battle poisoning. Euphemie is considered the best doctor in the land, and her healing practices derive from both empirical practices of her time and from the depiction of Iseut in the Tristan romances...
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My analysis of the ways in which love, magic, and medicine overlap and mutually influence each other in a set of thematically related Old French romances began by focusing on the knowledge and skills of empirical practitioners (those without formal training)...
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Penn State Romance Studies