- Purchase/rental options available:
If Jean de Mandeville's Livre des merveilles du monde is known for anything in the contemporary scholarly landscape, it is surely for the startling ambivalence with which its fourteenth-century narrator relates his experiences of cultural otherness. Although any attempt to situate the Mandeville author along the continuum of xenophobia to enlightenment is necessarily rooted in modern value systems, this debate does not proceed merely or even principally against the grain of the text. As this essay will show, otherness is not simply a major thematic focus of the narrator's journey but is coded into the linguistic system of the text itself, which is composed not of the "pure" French of the continent but of its oft-maligned insular cousin, Anglo-Norman. I examine the transmission history of the Livre des merveilles du monde in medieval francophone and anglophone settings to show that Mandeville's Anglo-Norman challenges a contemporary rhetoric that treated insular French as a poor copy of its Parisian counterpart in order to claim the privileges associated today with Homi Bhabha's "Third Space" of hybridity.