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  • Romances
  • Alan Deyermond

The following text was submitted by Alan Deyermond on June 3, 1990, as the first draft of a section devoted to the genre of romance in a planned encyclopedic dictionary of Iberian literatures being organized in the University of London at that time. Regrettably the project as a whole was abandoned, but this draft of his submission was retained among his files. Its preliminary draft status explains both the absence of the characteristically comprehensive bibliography that would have accompanied a final version, and the persistence of minor inconsistencies such as the alternation in his typescript of "subgenre" and "sub-genre" (six cases to three, respectively, including two of each on a single page; here the problem is resolved editorially in favour of the former), some indecision as to whether to class the Byzantine romance as a "genre" or a "subgenre" (the use of both terms in the same paragraph has been respected here), and the failure to supply dates for first printing of all texts cited. At this distance of time, the author would no doubt also have wished to modify some more significant elements of the content in the light of subsequent research (possessors of offprints of his that contain inserted privately duplicated updates [End Page 191] and lists of errata and addenda will be familiar with this laudable propensity of his); but the text still retains its importance as an overview of the Iberian manifestation of the genre written, fifteen years after his seminal article, "The Lost Genre of Medieval Spanish Literature",2 by a scholar who made a significant contribution to its study throughout his academic career, both in a series of articles on individual romances and in the general accounts of the genre in his works on the literary history of Spain. It must be borne in mind that the projected work was intended to address a non-Hispanist readership as well as peers and students in the discipline, which accounts for statements such as "Alfonso X, known as the Wise, of Castile" and the parenthetical definition of aljamiado, which may seem redundant to professional colleagues.

Given the chronological distance from the date of composition, I have decided neither to attempt to edit Alan's text (other than by incorporating into it his handwritten and typed additions and changes, which are placed within brackets; the few minor typing and linguistic errors are silently corrected, but more significant changes Alan had made to the typescript are recorded in footnotes) nor to add a bibliography, but to let it stand as an historical statement of his views on the romance at a time when our knowledge and understanding of the genre was expanding significantly, both through the recovery of lost texts (to which Alan alludes) and through then-new dimensions in the study of familiar works.

In the handwritten note to me that accompanied the manuscript, Alan observed, "You'll notice that in para.1 I've cannibalized my 1975 article. I couldn't see the point of trying to find different words for the same statements". After that opening paragraph, which offers an economically worded overall characterization of the genre, the rest of the text is an entirely fresh statement.

I am grateful to the editor of La corónica for enthusiastically agreeing to publish this work.

David Hook
Westbury on Trym, England [End Page 192]

Medieval European fiction is dominated by the short story (the folktale and its learned counterpart, the exemplum) and the romance — I exclude epic, since that was not perceived as fictional. The novel does not appear until the last days of the Middle Ages, and although some critics confuse the novel and the romance — sometimes on the specious ground that English is the only language to have separate words for the two genres — they are quite distinct. The romance is a story of adventure, dealing with combat, love, the quest, separation and reunion, other-world journeys, or any combination of these. The story is told largely for its own sake, though a moral or religious lesson is often implied and sometimes explicit. Special attention is given to the motives of the characters, and descriptions are fairly full. The romance...


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pp. 191-204
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