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Madness in Medieval French LiteratureIdentities Found and Lost$
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Sylvia Huot

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199252121.001.0001

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The Specular Madman

The Specular Madman

(p.40) 2 The Specular Madman
Madness in Medieval French Literature

Sylvia Huot (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the portrayal of the madman as a member of a community. In Arthurian romance, the court fool Daguenet offers a parody of knighthood, while heroic figures such as Lancelot and Tristan stand at the pinnacle of greatness; these figures define the outer limits of the chivalric identity adopted by ‘normal’ knights. When Lancelot and Tristan lapse into madness, their role at court changes while retaining its liminal quality. Comparative analysis of their madness, together with the character of Daguenet, brings out the variety of ways that madness serves as a literary device to characterise the culture and ethos of a royal court. Adam de la Halle’s Jeu de la Feuillee features a madman in an urban setting whose antics mask a more serious commentary on the ways that social exclusion operates in defining communal identity.

Keywords:   Arthurian romance, Lancelot, Tristan, Daguenet, court fool, Adam de la Halle, Jeu de la Feuillee

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