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Thinking Medieval Romance$
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Katherine C. Little and Nicola McDonald

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795148.001.0001

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Weaving a Tapestry from Biblical Exegesis to Romance Textuality

Weaving a Tapestry from Biblical Exegesis to Romance Textuality

Caught in the Web of Chrétien’s Conte du Graal

(p.93) 5 Weaving a Tapestry from Biblical Exegesis to Romance Textuality
Thinking Medieval Romance

Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner

Oxford University Press

This study examines how the particular character of Grail romances follows from the incongruous meeting of courtly and Christian discourses, combined for the first time in LeConte du Graal, Chrétien de Troyes’s last, unfinished romance. The romancer’s unsettling inclusion of religious issues within Arthurian narrative coincides with a new turn toward the Bible’s literal and historical sense observable in both Christian and Jewish biblical exegesis. By investigating features shared by romance and exegesis, we can glimpse how a number of issues involving representation and interpretation disseminate through later Grail stories, as the romancer’s inaugural gestures structure how rewriters negotiate the complexities of their enigmatic model. Divided into three sections, the chapter first treats the littera’s historical aspects and its arrangements (order, sequence, context). The second section examines the shifting relation between literal and allegorical senses, in order to explore the exegetical surprises of Chrétien’s prologue in the third.

Keywords:   Grail romances, biblical exegesis, twelfth-century renaissance, religious vs romanesque discourse, interpretation and authority, literal and allegorical senses, narrative sequence and context, narrative as commentary, the role of language, anti-Judaism

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