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2 - The Manuscript Contexts of Medieval Romance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2023

Roberta L. Krueger
Affiliation:
Hamilton College, New York
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Summary

Much can be learned about medieval romances by examining the manuscripts in which they are transmitted. The practical necessity of reading medieval texts in modern critical editions distances them from our only tangible contact with their historical contexts. Few, if any, romances survive in copies dating from a period near their date of composition, so the history of manuscript context is a history of reception. This chapter concentrates on Old French romance, with brief discussion of Middle English, Middle High German, Middle Dutch, and Old Norse. Consideration of the mise en texte, mise en page, and mise en livre of some major works and books which contain them, permits the construction of a model by which medieval romance may be approached in manuscript. Romances discussed include the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes and his epigones, the romans d’antiquité and other romans courtois. Briefer mention is made of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the unique manuscript of Malory; the Tristan of Gottfried von Straßburg and the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach; and the texts of the Lancelot-Compilatie.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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References

Suggestions for Further Reading

Besamusca, Bart. “The Manuscripts”. In The Arthur of the Low Countries: The Arthurian Legend in Dutch and Flemish Literature. Ed. Bart Besamusca and Frank Brandsma. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2021, pp. 5462.Google Scholar
Busby, Keith. Codex and Context: Reading Old French Verse Narrative in Manuscript. 2 vols. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002. French translation, Codex et contexte: lire la littérature française médiévale dans les manuscrits. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2022.Google Scholar
Busby, Keith. “Codex, Context, Continuation”. Medioevo Romanzo, 38, 1 (2014), 2844.Google Scholar
Busby, Keith. “The Manuscript Context of Arthurian Romance”. In Handbook of Arthurian Romance: King Arthur’s Court in Medieval European Literature. Ed. Leah Tether and Johnny McFadyen, in Collaboration with Keith Busby and Ad Putter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2017, pp. 97116.Google Scholar
Busby, Keith, Nixon, Terry, Stones, Alison, and Walters, Lori J.. Les Manuscrits de Chrétien de Troyes/The Manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes. 2 vols. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993.Google Scholar
Moran, Patrick. Lectures cycliques: le réseau inter-romanesque dans les cycles du Graal du XIIIe siècle. Paris: Champion, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morato, Nicola. “Formation et fortune du cycle de Guiron le Courtois”. In Le Cycle de Guiron, le Courtois. Ed. Luca Cadioli and Sophie Lecomte. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018, pp. 180247.Google Scholar
Rialfri: Repertorio Informatizzato Antica Letreratura Franco-Italiana Manuscripts – RIALFrIGoogle Scholar

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