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'Jourdain de Blaye' ('Jourdains de Blavies'), chanson de geste: Nouvelle edition entierement revue et corrigee.

With this revision of his 1969 edition, now out of print, Peter Dembowski makes available once more an entertaining text, part epic, part roman d'aventures. It exists in only one manuscript (Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS f. ft. 860), where it follows Ami et Amile, whose story it continues; it was previously published only by Hofmann (together with Ami et Amile) in 1852 and 1882, with few notes and no glossary or linguistic analysis, and by Dembowski in his previous edition. He expresses his gratitude to reviewers of that edition in his introduction, and appears to have accepted and acted on their criticisms without exception.

There is a standard brief introduction. The date of the text is hardly discussed, previous attributions to around 1200 being accepted with little comment. A lengthy plot summary, helpfully divided into numbered episodes, provides a useful Ariadne's thread as the reader makes his way through a complex tale involving many characters and locations. A detailed discussion of the poem's debt to the Historia Apollonii regis Tyri follows. The section on the language and graphy of the text is thorough, though one might have wished for a comment on 'murls et muries' (2020); Tobler-Lommatzsch gives oniv two examples of this spelling, this occurrence and one from Ami et Amile. In spite of explaining that w in weult or weuls is to be understood as vu (the form vueult also being found) the editor prints w; yet, contrary to normal practice, he resolves roman numerals. His idiosyncratic use of ez is well justified by the scribe's use of ez as a plural marker and verbal termination after atonic e.

The text is very conservatively edited. Faults in metre and declension are left untouched, with attention being called to them in the notes. So too are incomprehensible lines (e.g., 'mais or le ront diable si sire', 3815; possible emendations are mentioned in a note but none is chosen). It seems probable (from comparison with Hofmann, for want of sight of the manuscript) that encombiers (32) is a misprint, but in the main accuracy seems to be high. Use of the diaeresis is inconsistent (loent 22, but pescheor 2065).

While the notes faithfully report scribal and editorial corrections, they would have been more helpful had the editor shown more decisiveness: for example, at lines 3742-3, he reports the |probable' erroneousness of arriere, Andresen's proposed correction, but no opinion of his own. Similarly frustrating comments are given on lines 1448-9, 2939, 3242, 4198. On the sense of obscure lines, the same hesitancy is shown at lines 181 and 1157 (where the tentative interpretation given is surely correct). Proper names, too, prompt inconclusive discussion, as at lines 4225 and 41O. The note on the latter, considering |au viel Haymme ... de Dordon' and reporting a possible emendation to Naymme, fails to mention Naimes's Bavarian origin which, since the speaker claims kinship both with him and with the |Baivier Huidelon', is a strong argument in favour of this emendation. The competing claim of Haymon de Dordogne (from Renaut de Montauban) is mentioned but not evaluated.

The glossary, criticized by reviewers of the first edition, remains both thin and inconsistent in the degree of knowledge assumed in the reader. L'autrier, desver, grever, main |morning' are in; chaeste (3442), dechaste (300), faintie (66), perdes (2072, an unclear line which is not annotated) are not. In an edition published in a widely, diffused series, more help to the reader would have been welcome. That said, it is good to have this text available in a reliable edition and in a series which will give it the accessibility its interest and readability deserve.
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Author:Cobby, A.E.
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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