This erudite yet limpid 'défence et illustration' of medieval, pre-book culture should silence those who claim that the Middle Ages may have had writing but did not have literature, that this era remains in the 'dark ages,' an enigma, distant as it is in time and spirit. Cerquiglini-Toulet clearly and convincingly establishes the contrary: medieval literature exists in and of itself and as the necessary though often disputed bridge between Antiquity and the Renaissance.
A New History of Medieval French Literatureby Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet
Is it legitimate to conceive of and write a history of medieval French literature when the term "literature" as we know it today did not appear until the very end of the Middle Ages? In this novel introduction to French literature of the period, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet says yes, arguing that a profound literary consciousness did exist at the… See more details below
Is it legitimate to conceive of and write a history of medieval French literature when the term "literature" as we know it today did not appear until the very end of the Middle Ages? In this novel introduction to French literature of the period, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet says yes, arguing that a profound literary consciousness did exist at the time.
Cerquiglini-Toulet challenges the standard ways of reading and evaluating literature, considering medieval literature not as separate from that in other eras but as part of the broader tradition of world literature. Her vast and learned readings of both canonical and lesser-known works pose crucial questions about, among other things, the notion of otherness, the meaning of change and stability, and the relationship of medieval literature with theology.
Part history of literature, part theoretical criticism, this book reshapes the language and content of medieval works. By weaving together topics such as the origin of epic and lyric poetry, Latin-French bilingualism, women’s writing, grammar, authorship, and more, Cerquiglini-Toulet does nothing less than redefine both philosophical and literary approaches to medieval French literature. Her book is a history of the literary act, a history of words, a history of ideas and works—monuments rather than documents—that calls into question modern concepts of literature.
Calling into question modern concepts of literature, this book is at once a history of the literary act, a history of words, and a history of ideas and works.
A New History of Medieval French Literature has many merits. It offers a synthesis of medieval ideas of literature by one of the most preeminent scholars of our days. Its pages contain a wealth of references to texts both familiar and obscure, inviting us all to expand our reading lists. And, above all, it represents a new variety of literary history, one that scholars should debate for years to come.
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A tour de force by a major voice in medieval literature. One senses Professor Cerquiglini-Toulet's deep pockets of knowledge on just about every page of this lively written, completely engaging, and pleasurable new understanding of medieval French literature.
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