From Plato to Lancelot: A Preface to Chretien de Troyes

From Plato to Lancelot: A Preface to Chretien de Troyes

by K. Sarah-Jane Murray
Pub. Date:
Syracuse University Press


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From Plato to Lancelot: A Preface to Chretien de Troyes

Considered the most important figure in medieval French literature, Chrétien de Troyes is credited with inventing the modern novel. The roots of his influential Arthurian romance narratives remain the subject of investigation and great debate among medieval scholars. In From Plato to Lancelot, K. Sarah-Jane Murray makes a highly original and profoundly significant contribution to current scholarship by locating Chrétien's work at the intersection of two important traditions: one derived from Greco-Roman antiquity, the other from the Celtic world of the Atlantic seaboard.

Drawing on a broad range of sources, from Plato's Timaeus and Ovid's Metamorphoses to the anonymous Ovidian tales translated in the twelfth century and Marie de France's Lais, Murray demonstrates that Chrétien and his contemporaries learned the importance of translation from the Mediterranean-centered classical tradition. She then turns to the Celtic world, examining how Irish monastic scholarship, as demonstrated by the Voyage of St. Brendan and Celtic saints' lives, influenced the cultural identity of medieval Europe and paved the way for an interest in Celtic stories and legends.

With penetrating insight and lucid prose, Murray locates Chrétien's singular genius in his ability to look to the future and to lay the foundations for a thoroughly new, and French, tradition of vernacular storytelling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780815631606
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Publication date: 04/28/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

K. Sarah-Jane Murray is assistant professor of medieval literature and French in the Honors College at Baylor University. She has published widely on Old French and medieval literature in venues such as the Philological Quarterly, Romance Quarterly, Oeuvres et Critique, Explicator, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, and Florilegium.

Table of Contents

Illustrations     xi
Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction     xvii
The Mediterranean
Reading Plato, Writing Romance     3
Rewritings of Ovid     48
The Atlantic
Brendan's Voyage     87
"The Wave Cry, the Wind Cry"     131
The Dawn of Arthurian Romance     173
Lancelot and the Future of Lettreure     218
Conclusion     253
References     263
Index     291

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