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The Art of Medieval French Romance

Douglas Kelly

Publication Year: 1992

Douglas Kelly provides a comprehensive and historically valid analysis of the art of medieval French romance as the romancers themselves describe it. He focuses on well-known writers, such as Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, and also draws on a wide range of other sources—prose romances, non-Arthurian romances, thirteenth-century verse romances, and variant versions from the later Middle Ages.
    Kelly is the first scholar to present the “art” of medieval romance to a modern audience through the interventions and comments of medieval writers themselves. The book begins by examining the difficulties scholars perceive in medieval literature: problems such as source and intertextuality, structure in its manifold modern meanings, and character psychology and individuality. These issues frame Kelly’s identification and discussion of all the known authorial interventions on the art and craft of romance. Kelly’s careful reconstruction of the “art” of romance, based on the records left by the romancers themselves, will be an invaluable resource and guide for all medievalists.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xv

How would or could medieval authors have addressed the problems we perceive in their works? Problems like those of source and intertextuality, of structure in its manifold modern meanings, of character psychology and individuality? Did those problems exist for them? ...

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pp. 3-14

Some years ago William A. Nitze wrote that "we lack a discriminating book on Old French literary technique, centering upon that original and observant writer, Chr

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1. Conjointure

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pp. 15-31

The word conjointure is as ubiquitous in modern scholarship as it is rare in romance prologues and epilogues. Yet modern fascination with the word masks a startling, even disturbing variety of meanings that are attributed to it.1 In reference to romance, the noun appears to be a hapax in the Middle Ages, ...

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2. Antecedent Paradigms of Invention: Literary Paradigm

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pp. 32-67

The art of romance did not spring full-blown from the head of Chr

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3. Antecedent Paradigms of Invention: Historiographic Paradigm

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pp. 68-93

The paradigm for invention discussed in Chapter 2 was applied in the schools of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The romancers who wrote between 1150 and 1200 appear to have learned the art of composition in those schools before adapting it to the vernacular language and its matieres.1 ...

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4. Conte: Matiere and San

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pp. 94-145

Auctorial commentary on sources and adaptation is, of course, difficult to interpret and evaluate. Scholars have tended to explain such commentary with their own hypotheses on the relation between the extant medieval text and its alleged sources. This is so, for example, for B

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5. Estoire: Aventure merveilleuse

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pp. 146-204

Estoire was a common designation for both vernacular history and romance in the twelfth century.1 It comprehended two levels of coherence. One was marvelous and frequently enigmatic, unclear, or meaningless narrative matiere; the other was the author's san or conception of that matiere.2 ...

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6. Estoire: Verit

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pp. 205-262

One striking feature of marvels is their apparent purpose or design. 1 When accommodated to a given context and audience,2 intentionality (antancion) transforms the plot of the marvelous adventure into a significant illustration of chivalric life and mentalities. ...

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7. Roman: Ordre and Parties

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pp. 263-305

The double meanings of "language" and "a work in the Romance language" go back to the beginnings of vernacular estoire. 2 But here Jehan means something more specific—something that suggests his notion of romance was similar to Renaut de Beaujeu's: a bele conjointure or the orderly arrangement of narrative parts. ...

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8. Emergence of Romance

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pp. 306-322

At the outset of this study it was argued that there are three complementary approaches to the art of medieval romance: analysis of representative texts,1 historical survey of the constitution of the genre,2 and inference from recorded statements. I have taken the last approach. ...


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pp. 323-380


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pp. 381-446


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pp. 447-471

E-ISBN-13: 9780299131937
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299131906

Publication Year: 1992