Fiction and Incarnation: Rhetoric, Theology, and Literature in the Middle Ages

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Overview

Focusing on the Incarnation-the only dogma original to Christianity, in which God becomes man and history-this book offers a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated investigation of the relationship between Christian discourse and literature from Roman antiquity to the fourteenth century through a look at texts by Cicero, Quintilian, Martianus Capella, Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Alain of Lille, Guillaume de Machaut, and others.

Alexandre Leupin asks if it is possible to go beyond the dialectics of the Incarnated God and the Devil without harking back to the beautiful but partially obsolete truths of paganism and sophistry. Employing a method inspired by psychoanalysis, Leupin repudiates the sophistry and relativism of postmodern theory while calling into question old commonplaces that have been invalidated by modernity. He does so by attending to the larger and deeper structures hidden within the discourses of theology, rhetoric, literature, and psychoanalysis. The result is an innovative perspective on the Middle Ages, an original and promising view of the problems of Western literature in relation to theology and rhetoric.

Alexandre Leupin is Gregorie Professor in French studies at Louisiana State University. He is the author of many books, including, in English translation, Barbarolexis: Medieval Literature and Sexuality (1989).

David Laatsch is a Ph.D. candidate in the French department of Louisiana State University.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816637256
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Christian Epistemological Break
1 The Be-Seeming: Cicero and Quintilian 1
2 The Break: Tertullian 25
3 Fornication: Saint Augustine 46
4 Knowledge and Lacunae: Martianus Capella 77
5 A Divine Harmony: Isidore of Seville 96
6 "Sancta Simplicitas": The Old French Sequence of Saint Eulalia 110
7 Axiomatic Fiction; or, Of Books and Heresies: Alain of Lille 130
8 The Counterfeit: The Roman de Renart 146
9 Disincarnation: Guillaume de Machaut 188
Coda 219
Notes 221
Index 249
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2003

    Very enlightening

    This book is a must-read for anybody who is interested in understanding medieval literature or the culture of medieval Europe in general. Leupin juggles the interrelated concepts of Western Christianity, Heresy, and poetry with a skill that allows each to illuminate the others. He shows how each of these movements supports and reinforces the other, how they conflict, and how these conflicts play out on the pages of medieval literature. The text is accessible not only to experts in the field, but also to beginners. The ideas are clearly presented, and the lines between them clearly drawn. The scope of this work goes well beyond the range of medieval exegesis; it raises questions and provides insight into the literature of every time period, and in every place. The translation by David Laatsch was very clear and precise. It does not read like a translation, but as if it were originally written in English. The simple elegance of his work perfectly complements the skill and grace of the author's.

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