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A History of European LiteratureThe West and the World from Antiquity to the Present$
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Walter Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732679.001.0001

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Medieval Narrative after 1100

Medieval Narrative after 1100

(p.168) 7 Medieval Narrative after 1100
A History of European Literature

Walter Cohen

Oxford University Press

High and late medieval narrative (1100–1500) is, like contemporaneous lyric poetry, European literature in the strong sense—in the sense of sharing a set of common forms and themes, deriving from the Romance literatures, that are the result not merely of similar responses to structurally homologous cultural milieus, as with medieval epic, but also of pervasive cross-regional and cross-linguistic literary interaction. Even more than in lyric, Romance-language narrative of the time achieves its influential status by appropriation of the themes and forms of Asian literature (Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic). These issues can be investigated by successively considering three narrative genres of the period—romance, allegory (especially Langland), and the frame-tale collection (especially Boccaccio). Langland’s poem reveals the clash between religious orthodoxy and popular reception. Boccaccio’s fiction is crucial to the development of the European novel.

Keywords:   medieval narrative, romance, allegory, Langland, frame-tale collection, Boccaccio

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