Romancing the past: the rise of vernacular prose by Gabrielle M. Spiegel

By Gabrielle M. Spiegel

In a poststructuralist research of thirteenth-century French old texts, Gabrielle Spiegel investigates the explanations for the increase of French vernacular prose historiography at this actual time. She argues that the vernacular prose histories that experience formerly been considered as royalist have been really items of the aristocracy, reflecting its nervousness because it confronted social and financial swap and political threats from the monarchy.

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It seems to me incontrovertible that they, if not all French aristocrats, suffered from the anxieties and sentiments of decline as described. For these nobles, I contend, the patronage and consumption of vernacular historiography represented a search for ethical and ideo- Page 5 logical legitimacy that was displaced to the realm of culture, taking the form of a re-created past that could correct the deficiencies of a problematic present. "3 The early thirteenth century, in Le Goff's opinion, was precisely such a time, when the attempt to reconfigure the world of imagination in order to comprehend and come to terms with social transformations can be seen in a variety of literatures, both didactic and fictional.

Inextricably associated within these histories is a wide range of social and discursive practices, of material and linguistic realities that are interwoven into the fabric of the text, whose analysis as a determinate historical artifact in turn grants us access to the past. My emphasis on the text's social site stems from my belief that the power and meaning of any given set of representations derive in large part from the social context in which they are elaborated. In that sense, the meaning of a particular text is essentially relational, not stable or inherent in the text itself; it emerges only when the text is situated within a local environment of social and political networks that it seeks to shape and that are being organized around it.

Series. 48-1984. Page viii For Marcus and Alix <><><><><><><><><><><><> Because history is consummated only by being narrated, a critique of history may be practiced only as a narrative about how history, in narrating itself, is accomplished. Jean-Pierre Faye, Théorie du récit Page ix Contents Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 One The Historical Setting 11 Two Pseudo-Turpin and the Problem of Prose 55 Three Past Politics and the Politics of the Past: Ancient History I 99 Four The Question of the Heroic in Translations of Lucan's Pharsalia: Ancient History II 152 Five Contemporary Chronicles: The Contest over the Past 214 Six Royal History: Disengagement and Reconciliation 269 Epilogue 315 Appendix: The Continuation of Aimoin and the Sources of the Anonymous of Chantilly/Vatican 321 Notes 325 Bibliography 393 Index 413 Page xi Acknowledgments Any book as long in the making as this one incurs a list of debts that can barely be acknowledged.

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