Chrétien de Troyes

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Twayne Publishers, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 169 pages
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In Chretien de Troyes Revisited, author Karl D. Uitti at last places Chretien in context, offering a strong sense of the author's identity and the milieu in which he lived and wrote. Uitti's 30 years of work on the subject pay handsome dividends for the reader, as we view Chretien - likely for the first timeoutside of a vacuum. Uitti locates Chretien within the theological and philosophical setting of his time; views him as a worker-craftsman who produced stories on demand for his patron; depicts him as a clerc, that is, a learned man who took possession of the literary heritage coming down from Greece and Rome, thus becoming a successor to Virgil and Ovid; establishes a link between the "joining" of Heloise and Abelard and the numerous couples depicted in Chretien's romances; and argues persuasively that he advanced the French language to new heights through his work. This beautifully written book, born out of exhaustive research and informed study, covers the five major romances in octosyllabic rhyming couplets that may with certainty be ascribed to Chretien de Troyes, and touches upon a few minor works that have been attributed to him. In what is undeniably the definitive study on this subject. Uitti breaks new ground at nearly every level. He shows how Chretien explored two principal issues that serve to structure every one of his romances: the development of the young man into adulthood, and the problems of the couple. In each of his works, Chretien builds on these elements, developing the themes in a series of adventures undergone by a number of successful couples, and virtually singing the praises of marriage. So too does Uitti provide a new perspective through his carefulintertextual reading of Le Chevalier au Lion (Yvain) and Le Chevalier de la Charrette (Lancelot), arguing that together they constitute a "super romance". When we read them together, Uitti suggests, we see that one of the subjects being treated is the writing of the romance itself. Finally, Uitti establishes startling and vital links between the Conte du Graal (Perceval) and all the works preceding it, as well as between Chretien and other literature - both Latin and vernacular - of the Middle Ages (especially Tristan et Iseult, which exerted a powerful effect on the social elites of the day, and which, in Chretien's view, glorified destructive passions). This contextualization of Chretien furnishes not only marvelous insight into the subject matter, but also a rare glimpse of scholarly work in its most inspiring guise.

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User Review  - Pascale1812 - LibraryThing

Having recently stumbled across a copy of Chretien's Le Chevalier au Lion, I decided to get some background knowledge on Chretien himself. This book contains more literary analysis than biographical ... Read full review

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Brilliant exploration of the more esoteric features of Chretien's craft


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