Orality and Performance in Early French Romance

Boydell & Brewer, 1999 - 314 pages
This book proposes a fundamental revision of the history of early French romance, arguing that oral and performed traditions were far more important in the development of romance than scholars have recognised. It begins by dealing with issues of orality and literacy, and argues that the form in which romances were composed was not the invention of clerics but was, rather, an oral form. It shows how early versions of the Tristan story, by Béroul, Thomas and Marie de France, express the complex interplay between oral and written traditions, then goes on to focus in greater depth on Benot de Sainte-Maure, Chrétien and the anonymous author of the Roman de Thbes. The second part of the book looks at performance, showing that romances such as those of Chrétien invited voiced presentation; moreover, they were frequently recitd from memory, sung, and acted out in "dramatic" fashion. Romances can, and should, still be performed today.

EVELYN BIRGE VITZ is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University.

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Table des matières

The orality of the octosyllabic rhymed couplet
Clerc or ménestrel?
Further reflections on orality and
The case of Chrétien de Troyes
Romance as recited sung and played
On the memoryfriendliness of verse romance
On the advantages of a performanceoriented approach to
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À propos de l'auteur (1999)

Evelyn Birge Vitz is Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature and Religious Studies at New York University, USA.

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