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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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Marie de France, the Psalms, and the Construction of Romance Authorship

Marie de France, the Psalms, and the Construction of Romance Authorship

(p.114) 6 Marie de France, the Psalms, and the Construction of Romance Authorship
Thinking Medieval Romance

Geoff Rector

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the influence of the Psalms on the development of vernacular authorial roles in the twelfth century. It argues that authors of courtly romances, in the period of the genre’s emergence, drew upon the Psalms and the figure of David to sanction a new authorial office. In particular, it argues that Marie de France, in both the General Prologue and the lais themselves, looks to the Psalms for notions of lament, remembrance, obscurity, and restoration that frame both her authorial persona and the purposes of her genre. In ‘Yonec’ in particular, we see a heroine’s lament that is carefully modelled on the lament Psalms but also reproduces the duties of authorship and genre that Marie claims for herself in the Prologue. Ultimately, the chapter argues that the Psalms, working through ‘neighbouring’ or ‘contrafactive’ rather than familial relationships, definitely shaped romance as a genre.

Keywords:   vernacular authorship, Marie de France, Yonec, Psalms, David, lament, rhetorical obscurity, generic formation, lais, courtly romance

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