Orality and Performance in Early French Romance

Overview

This book proposes a fundamental revision of the history of early French romance, arguing that oral and performed traditions were far more important in the development of romance than scholars have recognised. It begins by dealing with issues of orality and literacy, and argues that the form in which romances were composed was not the invention of clerics but was, rather, an oral form. It shows how early versions of the Tristan story, by Béroul, Thomas and Marie de France, express the complex interplay between ...
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Overview

This book proposes a fundamental revision of the history of early French romance, arguing that oral and performed traditions were far more important in the development of romance than scholars have recognised. It begins by dealing with issues of orality and literacy, and argues that the form in which romances were composed was not the invention of clerics but was, rather, an oral form. It shows how early versions of the Tristan story, by Béroul, Thomas and Marie de France, express the complex interplay between oral and written traditions, then goes on to focus in greater depth on Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Chrétien and the anonymous author of the Roman de Thèbes. The second part of the book looks at performance, showing that romances such as those of Chrétien invited voiced presentation; moreover, they were frequently recitd from memory, sung, and acted out in "dramatic" fashion. Romances can, and should, still be performed today. EVELYN BIRGE VITZ is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780859915380
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 12/31/1998
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Foreword: The arguments of the book
Pt. I Orality and Literacy
1 The orality of the octosyllabic rhymed couplet 4
2 Oral and written traditions in the early Tristan material: Beroul, Thomas and Marie de France 26
3 The poet of the Roman de Thebes: Clerc or menestrel? 47
4 Chretien de Troyes as minstrel: Further reflections on orality and literacy in twelfth century French courts 86
Pt. II Performance
5 Voice in medieval romance: The case of Chretien de Troyes 139
6 Modalities of performance: Romance as recited, sung and played; romance as read 164
7 On the "memory-friendliness" of verse romance 228
8 On the advantages of a performance-oriented approach to medieval romance 267
Bibliography 285
Index 303
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