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On Grid-Editing Chrétien de Troyes Alfred Foulet S c h o la r s , w h e n e v e r th e y r e f e r t o th e t e x t of one of the romances of Chrétien de Troyes, usually borrow the quoted passages from one of the Classiques Français du Moyen Age edi­ tions.1This procedure suffers from a serious flaw: the editors’ almost slavish adherence to their basic manuscript, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 794 (known also as the Guiot MS). Although B.N. fr. 794 is one of the oldest and best of all extant Chrétien manuscripts, it is far from perfect. Guiot, the scribe who copied it, could not have done so before 1213, the earliest possible date for the composition of Les Empereurs de Rome, and since Chrétien probably did not outlive Count Philip of Flanders, to whom he dedicated his unfinished Perceval and who died in 1191, we must conclude that more than twenty years elapsed between the time Chrétien wrote the last of his five romances and Guiot’s transcription of them. This means, a priori, that the Chrétien texts we read in B.N. fr. 794 are open to suspicion: between Chrétien’s originals and the Guiot MS we may assume the loss of one or several intermediaries, each one of these MSS less faithful to Chrétien than its model. Another a priori reason for doubting the accuracy of the Guiot transcription is the formidable task he faced: not only did he set out to copy in extenso Chrétien’s five romances, but also A this et Profilias, Troie, Brut, Les Empereurs de Rome by Calendre, and the first Perceval Continuation2—a huge undertaking, which no single person can reasonably be expected to have handled otherwise than some­ what mechanically. A posteriori, when one collates the C.F.M.A. editions of Erec, Cligés, Lancelot, and Yvain with those procured by Wendelin Foerster,3 weaknesses and defects of Guiot’s transcriptions became readily apparent. His deficiencies are many: he omits words and even lines; he transposes lines within a couplet or rewrites them; he seems insensitive to the finer points of Chrétien’s prosody.4 Foerster’s editions stand at the opposite pole from those we owe to Mario Roques, Alexandre Micha, and Félix Lecoy. Whereas the latter three offer texts of rather more linguistic than purely literary interest, the German scholar’s aim was to produce a critical text, i.e., one that Vol.XXVII, No. 1 15 L ’E sprit C ré a t e u r attempts not only to restore the substance of the archetype, but also to clothe Erec, Cligés, Lancelot and Yvain in what the editor construed to be Chrétien’s very words and spelling. The result: texts of indubitable literary merit, but, except for the variants provided in Foerster’s apparatus criticus and in the Foerster-Breuer Wörterbuch, of next to no really accurate documentary value, since the reader is ever uncertain whether a given line is found in precisely that form or with that orthogra­ phy in any of the manuscripts. How did Foerster choose his readings?5The principles that guided him may at times be deduced from his textual notes, but he never pre­ sents us with a table in which he groups and formulates them. As editors of Lancelot, Karl D. Uitti and I retain Guiot’s transcription as our base manuscript, yet we do not hesitate to correct or emend what we deem a departure from Chrétien’s original text—except in matters of form and spelling. Our main assumptions in regard to Chrétien are the following: 1. Chrétien wishes to make sense, Guiot occasionally is guilty of non­ sense. 2. Chrétien respects the norms of OFr grammar (e.g, the two-case declension), while Guiot is less respectful of these. 3. Chrétien avoids identical rhymes, Guiot does not. 4. Chrétien has a predilection for rich rhymes, Guiot does not share it. 5. Chrétien at times makes...


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