- When Lovers Recount their Own Stories: Assimilating Text and Image Units in the Prologue of the Roman de la Poire, ms. Paris BnF 2186
- Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation
- Society for Textual Scholarship
- Volume 11, Number 1-2, Winter 2017 (2019)
- pp. 17-41
- View Citation
- Additional Information
The prologue of the Roman de la Poire includes speeches from the God of Love, the Goddess Fortune, the poet/narrator of the work, and several protagonists from twelfth-century texts. Ms Paris BnF 2186 (ms. A) includes nine full-page illuminations (very rare in romance) in the prologue that accompany the speeches, forming units of text and image. This article analyzes the speeches by Cligés, Tristan, and Pyramus with their accompanying illuminations. In the speeches, the lovers narrate their own stories (which they did not in the earlier versions), changing them so as to offer a new and substantially different version of a central episode from their narrative that emphasizes how lovers manage appearances, shape perceptions, and respond to various obstacles to love including slanderers and meddlesome courtiers. Comparisons between the Poire speeches and the twelfth-century texts reveal the extent of the changes and how they respond to the poet/narrator’s fear of slanderers. An analysis of the illuminations shows that the illuminator highlighted specific details of the speeches so that through the power of visual representation, the paintings fix in the memory of an observer the lovers’ responses to barriers to love. The images and texts work synergistically and have the potential to encourage any lover, including the romance protagonist, who expresses uncertainty and hesitation throughout the text about slanderers and difficulties. The Poire insists on the importance of memory, and the text and image units of the prologue of ms. A establish that importance from the first pages a reader encounters.