Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-pftt2 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-26T19:34:47.558Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

6 - ‘Vinegar upon Nitre’? Walter Map’s Romance of ‘Sadius and Galo’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2022

Victoria Flood
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
Megan G. Leitch
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
Get access

Summary

Walter Map's story of ‘Sadius and Galo’ is the longest self-contained narrative in Map's only extant work, the collection of anecdotes, satires, marvels and historical narratives now generally known as De nugis curialium (Of Courtiers’ Trifles). It is often characterised as a ‘courtly romance’ in Latin prose, but this classification is implicitly a contradiction in terms, since originally and by strict definition the word ‘romance’ applies only to compositions in the vernacular languages, rather than (or indeed, as opposed to) those in Latin. So how is this apparent contradiction to be explained? Is Map's tale simply an appropriation of the romance mode into a language environment in which it is essentially foreign, a text that consistently borrows distinctively ‘romantic’ themes and motifs in such a way as to offer what is, in effect, a translation of the romance mode into the language of ‘clerks’? Or should it be seen rather as an illustration of the extent to which Latin could also be seen as a natural vehicle for courtly romance, itself fully embodying the creative energies of the genre, without necessarily deferring to, or being subordinate to, other languages? Or would it be more useful to seek a tertium quid here, to rethink the genre of courtly romance in such a way as to emphasise both its essential vernacularity (together with the values implicit in its vernacularity, such as its secularity and its popular appeal) and its simultaneous openness to influence by, and interference from, clerkly Latin-language culture, thus defining it as a genre that is always and essentially implicated in an ongoing process of exchange between languages? From this perspective, ‘Sadius and Galo’ might perhaps be seen as a particularly clear example of this process in action: as a literary text that expresses, but also exploits, the inherent tensions between vernacular and Latin culture.

‘Sadius and Galo’ certainly suggests a confident familiarity with the narrative conventions and implied ideology of vernacular courtly romance, displaying none of the lack of confidence that might be expected of a text that is consciously at odds with its own identity. In fact, Map's work is more than just confidently familiar with its romance models. The tale he tells is carefully constructed in such a way as to accommodate a remarkably intense accumulation of ‘romantic’ themes and motifs within a relatively brief compass.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×