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Weaving Narrative

Clothing in Twelfth-Century French Romance

By Monica L. Wright

Publication Year: 2009

Enide’s tattered dress and Erec’s fabulous coronation robe; Yvain’s nudity in the forest, which prevents maidens who know him well clothed from identifying him; Lanval’s fairy-lady parading about in the Arthurian court, scantily dressed, for all to observe: just why is clothing so important in twelfth-century French romance? This interdisciplinary book explores how writers of this era used clothing as a signifier with multiple meanings for many narrative purposes. Clothing figured prominently in twelfth-century France, where exotic fabrics and furs came to define a social elite. Monica Wright shows that representations of clothing are not mere embellishments to the text; they help form the textual weave of the romances in which they appear. This book is about how these descriptions are constructed, what they mean, and how clothing becomes an active part of romance composition—the ways in which writers use it to develop and elaborate character, to advance or stall the plot, and to structure the narrative generally.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

Illustrations

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

this book was written with the support of the University of Bristol, which awarded me a semester of research leave in 2002–3 and a University Research Fellowship in 2004–5. It was completed with the support of a one-year research fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust in 2006–7. The idea for the book came from Bristol’s participation in the Worldwide ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

we open with a marginal image in a bilingual treatise, composed and translated around 1350 in Avignon by the Austin friar Peyre de Paternas, the Libre de sufficientia e de necessitat (27v; fig. 1).1 At the top of the left-hand column is the end of a chapter in Occitan. It is then followed by the opening of the subsequent chapter in Latin; Occitan translation follows the Latin text. ...

Part 1. Myths of Multilingualism

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1. Babel in Girart de Roussillon

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pp. 17-34

... that all humans spoke one language until Enki, the god of wisdom, “changed the speech in their mouths / [brought] contention into it, / Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”1 The cause of this ancient confusion of tongues is not clear, but it is clearly a precursor of the biblical tale of Babel. It may well be explained as a punishment for human ambitions to touch the divine realm or possibly for the reason ...

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2. Tongues of Fire in Guilhem de la Barra

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pp. 35-54

... Libre de Mossen Guilhem de la Barra (1318) may be read as a back-to-front rewriting of the key narrative features of Girart de Roussillon. It opens with a lengthy, violent conversion narrative that addresses the questions of interlinguistic communication, one that has attracted substantial critical attention.1 A Saracen lady persuades her husband to convert with ...

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3. Acquiring the (M)other Tongue in Avignon and Toulouse

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pp. 55-74

... has argued that it is possible to use a long- established interpretation of Babel, in terms of Freud’s writings on the dangerous collective aspects of monotheism, as a critique of monolingualism. 1 The narrative opens with the verse “The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Gen. 11:1). At this point in history, the three sons of Noah ( Japheth...

Part 2. Language Politics

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4. Translation Scandals

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pp. 77-98

... translatio refers to interpretation and glossing, the transfer of meaning from one word to another. It also has the sense of the usurpation of either meaning or power, and by this gloss, the translator may be seen trying to seize control of a place or of a text.1 As Catalan literary prose developed in the royal chancery and households during the last ...

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5. Languages and Borders in Three Novas

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pp. 99-118

... of the tales of “Sleeping Beauty” is an anonymous fourteenth-century nova titled Frayre de Joy e Sor de Plaser. The prologue posits an opposition between, on the one hand, the linatge (lineage) and lengatge (language) of the French and, on the other, the unnamed language the narrator claims he or she has acquired among people ...

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6. Monolingualism and Endogamy: French Examples

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pp. 119-138

... was more suited to narrative than to lyric expression, and it should come as no surprise to find French versions of the “Sleeping Beauty” tale of Frayre de Joy e Sor de Plaser. The near identical tale of Troÿlus and Zellandine in Perceforest has often been compared to the Occitan-Catalan tale and will be discussed in the second part of this chapter. In the first part I will examine the opening ...

Part 3. The Monolangue

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7. The Multilingual Paris and Vienne

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pp. 141-158

... Le Monolinguisme de l’autre constructs a series of imagined dialogues to explore the proposition “Je n’ai qu’une langue, ce n’est pas la mienne” (I have only one language/tongue, it is not mine). Derrida’s essay unpacks the complex modern associations that are made between the French language as a sign of culture, nation, and race, ...

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8. Pierre de Provence et La Belle Maguelonne

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pp. 159-176

... may have inspired its textual sibling, Lystoire du chevalier Pierre de Provence et de La Belle Maguelonne (c. 1453) (henceforward La Belle Maguelonne). The romance resembles Paris et Vienne in many ways and has often been studied alongside it, although surviving manuscripts do not preserve the two romances together.1 Unlike Paris and Vienne, ...

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9. Travels in the Monolangue

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pp. 177-194

... are forced to engage in dialogue with unfamiliar languages. Such encounters are determined by the traveler’s status and may be marked by all manner of cultural anxieties. A merchant will not have the same status abroad as a soldier or a migrant. As we saw in both Paris and Vienne and in the Belle Maguelonne, travel may estrange the masculine subject from his mother tongue or may prove the feminine subject’s ...

Notes

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pp. 195-212

Bibliography

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pp. 213-230

Index

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pp. 231-237


E-ISBN-13: 9780271052588
E-ISBN-10: 0271052589
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271035659
Print-ISBN-10: 027103565X

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Penn State Romance Studies

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Clothing and dress in literature.
  • Material culture in literature.
  • Literature and society -- France -- History -- To 1500.
  • French poetry -- To 1500 -- History and criticism.
  • Romances -- History and criticism.
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