Etymologies and Genealogies: A Literary Anthropology of the French Middle Ages

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 1, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 282 pages
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"Mr. Bloch has attempted to establish what he calls a 'literary anthropology.' The project is important and ambitious. It seems to me that Mr. Bloch has completely achieved this ambition." –Michel Foucault

"Bloch's Study is a genuinely interdisciplinary one, bringing together elements of history, ethnology, philology, philosophy, economics and literature, with the undoubted ambition of generating a new synthesis which will enable us to read the Middle Ages in a different light.

Stated simply, and in terms which do justice neither to the density nor the subtlety of his argument, Bloch's thesis is this: that medieval society perceived itself in terms of a vertical mode of descent from origins. This model is articulated etymologically in medieval theories of grammar and language, and is consequently reflected in historical and theological writings; it is also latent in the genealogical structure of the aristocratic family as it began to be organized in France in the twelfth century, and is made manifest in such systems of signs as heraldry and the adoption of patronymns. . . .

It is an ingenious and compelling synthesis which no medievalist, even on this side of the Atlantic, can afford to ignore." –Nicholas Mann, Times Literary Supplement
  

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Contents

Early Medieval Grammar
30
Kinship
64
Literature and Lineage
92
Poetry Philosophy and Desire
128
The Economics of Romance
159
Grail Family and Round Table
198
Appendix A
229
Index
275
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About the author (1986)

R. Howard Bloch, chairman of the French Department at the University of California Berkeley, is the author of The Scandal of the Fabliaux, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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