Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-m9pkr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-15T22:28:23.644Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

9 - Recovery and Loss: Women’s Writing around Marie de France

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2020

Get access

Summary

In medieval English literary culture of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the number of really well-known women, certainly if we define ‘well-known’ as ‘taught on undergraduate courses’, is, perhaps, two: Christina of Markyate, a religious leader, and Marie de France, acclaimed as the first woman writer in French vernacular literature. This essay looks at the recovery, or better, the creation of Marie de France, and some of its implications. There are several aspects to this examination: although presented in its full detail at the end of the essay, the most original and important is the phonological evidence of Professor Ian Short concerning the texts currently ascribed to Marie de France. My own contribution is less original: I want to reprise some arguments for thinking that looking for authorship and authorial canons is not the only way of seeing medieval women's literary and intellectual engagement, and to argue that the canonical impulse obscures the literary culture in which the works now ascribed to Marie de France were created. Such arguments have quite a long genealogy in work on Marie de France, but still seem to need restating in each generation. Given that it is still possible for scholars to celebrate Marie de France as a lusus naturae, bravely inserting herself into “an exclusively male literary system,” it seems pertinent to invoke these arguments in the context of a volume dealing with medieval women's intellectual contributions.

As is well known, the name “Marie de France” is noticed in the sixteenth century in the collection of Aesopic Fables ascribed to her, but the canon attributed to Marie “de France” is an eighteenth-century creation. The first scholar to assign both Lais and Fables to her is Thomas Tyrwhitt in his 1775 edition of Chaucer, as part of a wider conversation about Armorican lays and the primacy – or not – of Arthurian materials in Geoffrey of Monmouth versus stories from Brittany. (It is significant that the manuscript known to both Tyrwhitt and his predecessor, Warton, is London, British Library MS Harley 978, the only extant medieval manuscript, as discussed below, to contain both Lais and Fables with each of them having text-internal ascriptions to “Marie”).

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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
×