Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

by Penny Eley


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Partonopeus de Blois is one of the most important works of twelfth-century French fiction; it shaped the development of romance as a genre, gave rise to adaptations in several other medieval languages and even an opera (Massanet's Esclarmonde). However, partly because of its complicated transmission history, and partly due to the fact that it has been overshadowed by the works of Chrétien de Troyes, it has been unjustly neglected. This firstfull-length study of the romance brings together literary, historical and manuscript studies to explore its making as it evolved through seven medieval "editions", the earliest of which probably predated most of Chrétien's romances. The book's thematic analyses show how the Partonopeus poet applied established techniques of rewriting to a wide range of classical, vernacular and Celtic sources, combining this literary fusion with political subtexts to create a new and influential model of romance composition. Detailed studies of the Continuation reveal more ambitious experimentation by the original author, as well as the activities of a series of "editors" who continued to modify the text for over a century. A final discussion of patronage proposes a new reading of the poem's distinct narratorial interventions on women and love, and suggests a link between Partonopeus and a disturbing episode in the history of Blois.

Penny Eley is Professor of Medieval French at the University of Sheffield.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781843842743
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
Publication date: 09/15/2011
Series: Gallica Series , #21
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables vii

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 1

1 Patterns of Youth and Age 19

The very young man: Partonopeus 22

The older woman and the very young girl: Melior and Persewis 32

The older man and his doubles: Gaudin, the packhorse knight and Ernoul 39

More young men: Anselot and Lucion 44

2 Power, Birth and Values: The fils à vilain Theme 50

A programme for reading: the prologue 52

The fills à vilain defeated: Sornegur and Marés 59

Ambivalent recurrences: the bishop of Paris and Farés 68

3 Walter Map and Other Animals 75

A horse, a lion and the Roman de Thèbes 76

Anselot's tirade: context and content 84

Creatures too close for comfort 91

Ten ravening beasts 96

The Walter Map connection 102

4 Experiments in Fiction: Anselot's Story 112

The manuscript tradition and authorship of Anselot's story 115

An exemplary fusion 127

Doubling and mis en abyme 139

5 When is an Ending not an Ending? Questions of Closure 150

The first continuation? 153

The Sultan: a real-life enemy figure 157

The ending of the Continuation 162

6 Poets and a Patroness: The Making of Partonopeus de Blois 179

Form and fusion: the Roman d'Alexandre and Florimont 179

The mysterious disappearance of Urraque 187

Passe Rose: beloved patroness? 192

Conclusion 207

Appendix 1 Notes on Editions and Manuscripts 215

Appendix 2 Synopsis 218

Bibliography 229

Index 251

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