Printer Friendly

Marvelous crystals, perilous mirrors: le Roman de la Rose and the discontinuity of the romance subject.

Critics have, for some time now, highlighted the discontinuity of Guillaume de Lorris version of the Roman de la Rose. (1) Postmodern approaches have, appropriately for the first extended first-person narrative in French, focused on the psychoanalytical discontinuity of the subject. This focus has led to some exciting work on the Narcissus scene (Hult; Huchet; Nouvet, "Allegorical Mirror"; Gilbert). These readings, I believe, also open the door to a consideration of broader discontinuities at work in Guillaume's version of the Roman, discontinuities beyond the Narcissus scene that may be at the very heart of romance and are integral to understanding the early thirteenth-century discourse and practice of self-representation. Daniel Heller-Roazen's "poetics of contingency" (28) and "referential duplicity" (34) reinforce this image of an unstable, self-deconstructive subject at the heart of the dual-authored Roman. Suzanne Conklin Akbari's Seeing through the Veil similarly finds in Guillaume's romance an allegorical "multiplication of the self" (66) that "complicates the effort of self-recognition" (69). Like Heller-Roazen and Akbari, I think that the postmodern assessment of the discontinuity of the subject should include and go beyond the Narcissus character and scene, and even beyond Guillaume's romance. I would like to analyze Guillaume's project of self-representation in the Roman and to contextualize it with two other works: first, Chretien de Troyes's Yvain, which could loosely be called a literary source, Guillaume's matiere; and then a set of manuscript illuminations (the lavish Vatican manuscript, Urbinatus Latinus 376), at least a reaction to and perhaps even an interpretation of Guillaume's romance. These two works reinforce the modern assessment of an unstable subject in the Roman and lead us to think of this instability as a more widespread condition.

Guillaume's and Chretien's stories and the manuscript illuminations share a common dilemma: the juxtaposition of quest and obstacle in the development of the protagonist. In the Romana series of obstacles threaten the dreamer's, and more particularly the lover's, progress toward the beloved, symbolized by the rose. The fountain at the center of the romance nicely embodies this dilemma. ! will summarize the scene briefly here and return to it later. When the lover/poet comes upon the fountain at line 1425, he immediately notices an inscription that announces that Narcissus died here. (2) For about seventy lines he tells the story of Narcissus. Then he tells us that this story made him afraid to look at the fountain and his reflection, and he backs away from the fountain (1514). Then, inexplicably, he leans over the fountain, looks into it, and sees the bottom of the river (1524). There at the bottom he sees marvelous crystals that have the power of showing the whole garden in its exact order (1537-70). Then, again abruptly, he tells us that this is the perilous fountain where proud Narcissus saw himself and died (1571-74). This striking and much commented-upon scene juxtaposes two forces within one image. (3) First, the surface of water in the fountain creates the perilous mirror. Second, inside the fountain, the bed of the river is covered with marvelous crystals that sparkle and reflect the garden. For the questing romance subject, the crystals seem to allegorize the progress and possibilities of love. The mirror surface, on the other hand, seems to allegorize obstacles to love, including the danger of pride and self-absorption. The magical power of the crystals also seems to fulfill the many promises of revelation that the text has repeatedly announced. Likewise, the dangerous surface of the fountain seems to extend and to expand the warnings about what a lover ought to avoid, about the obstacles to love. (4) This complex and layered fountain image balances the delicate play of progress and obstacle in the Roman. Yet it also confronts the reader and protagonist with an irreconcilable tension, a tension that leaves the lover at an impasse: the fountain simultaneously represents possibility and promise as well as warning, obstacle, and resistance. I think the two forces are inseparable and do not represent a hierarchy of obstacles meant to be overcome. (5) As the lover continues his quest beyond the fountain, we soon learn that be ends up in a realm of perpetual deferral with no fulfillment. The dilemma of romance is not overcome. The marvelous crystals do not pull the lover through the resistance of the perilous mirror. This failure, though a justified cause of postmodern fascination, seems uncharacteristic of romance, or at least idiosyncratic to Guillaume, but the wider context we will examine suggests that the protagonist's failed quest may be a fairly typical manifestation of a medieval anxiety of subjectivity.

The discontinuity of progress and obstacle is announced in a series of never-to-be-fulfilled promises that Guillaume's romance makes near the onset of the poem. (6) We learn that the narrator believes that dreams do have meaning (15-16) and that be thinks that the things people dream in a dark way ("couvertement" 19) will later be seen in the light of day ("apertement" 20). (7) Just a few lines later, he reiterates that there is nothing that happened in his dream that has not come true (28-29). He then tells us that be will put his whole dream into rhyme (31), in effect promising to reveal its conclusion. Finally, still in these prefatory lines, be articulates another indirect promise: he wishes that the one for whom he wrote his romance would receive it favorably (40). At key moments further into the romance, the author/narrator promises more boldly to reveal a hidden truth three specific times. (8) In summary, the text promises very explicitly and repeatedly to reveal a hidden truth. It promises that dreams have meaning and come true. It promises to remove a veil or cover. It promises with more modesty that this work will be well received by the woman for whom it was written. Finally, it indirectly promises that the dreamer will finish his dream, wake up, and be transformed into a lover. It is uncanny that an incomplete text would be so obsessed with promising completion and fulfillment.

It is certainly possible that the romance fails to deliver on these promises because it ends prematurely. But when we turn to Chretien de Troyes's Yvain, an acknowledged precursor for the Roman, we find a very similar discontinuity between promise and fulfillment. (9) If we assume Guillaume's Roman to be finished, then he could not have chosen a better literary model than Yvain, in particular the Calogrenant episode, for a failed quest. (10) The promises in Chretien's Yvain are much less explicit. They are nonetheless subtly and powerfully articulated and should help situate the dilemma of Guillaume's protagonist in the larger context of romance more generally. At the onset of Yvain, the reader is most struck by an unpromising atmosphere. The narrator quickly informs us that love just isn't what it used to be; it has become a lie, "fable" (24). Those who claim to love today are telling stories and lies, "fable et menchongne" (27). In this depressing atmosphere, he'll tell a story of earlier times, of King Arthur, whose name does promise to survive into the future (38). But then oddly, the story begins with King Arthur violating this promise by leaving his guests to take a nap. While King Arthur is asleep, one of his knights, Keu, is rude to the queen and to another knight, Calogrenant. Calogrenant, to his shame, is forced to tell a story of a recent adventure in which he was defeated. This unpromising beginning has been read as an excuse for Calogrenant's cousin, Yvain, to avenge his cousin's defeat and to go on to realize a successful military and amorous quest. (11) But Chretien has embedded some subtle promises even within this opening atmosphere of failure.

The first manifestation of a promise comes as a preface to Calogrenant's story. Calogrenant, speaking to the queen and his audience of Arthurian knights, announces to all that he will not tell a story of fictions and lies; on the contrary, he will tell what be really saw: "Car ne veul pas servir de songe, / Ne de fable, ne de menchonge,/ ... Ains conterai che que je vi" (171-74, I will use neither dreams nor fictions nor lies ... Instead, I will tell what I saw). (12) Similar to the nostalgic tone at the beginning of the romance, Calogrenant claims to avoid the discourse of lies, fiction, and dreams, and to offer a discourse of truth: "che que je vi." The juxtaposition of dreams and lies with truth will resonate in the first lines of the Roman de la Rose some fifty years later. (13) For Calogrenant the announcement seems to be a defensive statement. He is a knight who is about to tell a story of his own defeat. It is an articulation of the vulnerability of the first-person narrator: this story will not be an embellished and pretty fiction, but in fact what really happened, the story of his failure.

The second instance of a promise in Chretien's text comes when Calogrenant meets the herdsman on his path in the forest: "Je sui, cou vois, uns chevaliers / Qui quier che que trouver ne puis / Asses ai quis et riens ne truis" (356-58, I am, as you see, a knight who seeks what he cannot find. I've sought enough yet I find nothing). Calogrenant defines himself as a knight in search of what be cannot find (357). This statement could be interpreted as a sign of the vanity and the emptiness of the courtly knight's quest (Hunt, Chretien 40 and 47). He then asks the herdsman if he knows of some marvel or adventure (364). The herdsman responds by saying he knows nothing of adventure, but then goes on to give very precise directions to the adventure of the marvelous fountain (365-405). This scene has been read as a juxtaposition of vilain and courtois or of the uncouth and vulgar behavior of the herdsman versus the courtly civilized values of the knight (Hunt, "Le Chevalier" 159). We can go a bit further. By having the vilain guide the knight toward his adventure, Chretien inscribes the promise of the quest in the very figure of obstacle and resistance. The herdsman who blocks the path also announces its destination.

As we move from Calogrenant's relative failure to Yvain's relative success, we also see that the herdsman's paradoxical embodiment of promise and obstacle is more a part of the infrastructure of this romance than an anomaly. Yvain, so desperately eager to fulfill the promise of adventure articulated by the herdsman and his cousin, barely even notices the herdsman when he actually comes across his path. Instead, be rushes madly past him to the fountain where be splashes the water with all his strength. Immediately the birds sing a marvelous joy above the perilous fountain: "Et firent joie merveillouse / Seur la fontaine perillouse" (807-8). Here Chretien refigures the obstacle and promise of the herdsman in the image of the fountain. The marvelous joy embodies the promises of adventure; the perilous fountain embodies the danger, resistance, and obstacles that such adventures require. The remainder of the romance, with its obsessive return to the fountain, makes clear that the promise and obstacle are inextricably bound together. If fulfillment of the quest were defined as overcoming the peril of the fountain and reaching the marvelous joy it promised, it is not clear that Yvain achieves his quest any more successfully than Calogrenant. (14)

The two images of obstacle and resistance that I've highlighted here from Yvain, the herdsman and the fountain, become the very motor force of Guillaume's romance. Let us return to the Roman de la Rose, then, to see how these reincarnated images play out and complicate the promises Guillaume makes. It is worth noting that unlike Chretien, Guillaume does not use these two images as introductory catalysts for the adventures. The herdsman, reincarnated as the menacing villain, Dangiers, does not appear in the Roman until line 2920, nearly two-thirds of the way through. The fountain, likewise, appears quite a ways into the romance at line 1425. This is after the lover has passed through the personifications of vices and virtues, through the gate into the garden, and past the courtly dancers. This displacement forward in the narration suggests that Guillaume imagines the resistance that these two obstacles bring to his protagonist's quest as something inherent to the quest itself rather than an initial catalyst as in Chretien. In effect, neither obstacle is ever overcome in the Roman.

We will recall that Chretien juxtaposed, in one rhyme, the peril and the marvel of the fountain: "Et firent joie merveillouse / Seur la fontaine perillouse" (807-8, They sang a marvelous joy on the perilous fountain). In the context of Yvain, the peril was the threat of violence represented by the "noise" (479) of the arrival of the menacing knight of the fountain. The marvel of the fountain was represented in Chretien by the harmony of bird song. Chretien seems to have in mind a juxtaposition of discourses: the perfect song of the birds versus the more discordant, noisy song of the knights and battles. Chretien seems happy to leave these tensions unresolved.

The chivalric overtones of Chretien's image disappear from the fountain image in Guillaume's Roman. And yet Guillaume maintains the image intact. In particular he holds onto Chretien's polarity of perilous and marvelous. He says specifically that the crystals at the bottom of the fountain are marvelous (1549) and that the surface of the fountain, the mirror, is perilous (1571). While the two forces remain similarly juxtaposed, Guillaume inverts and condenses Chretien's image. Chretien insisted with the preposition seur that the birds were above the fountain, and, as the merveillouse/perillouse rhyme indicates, that the marvelous preceded the perilous. Guillaume carefully places the crystals inside and at the bottom of the fountain: "ou fons de la fontainne aval /Avoit deus pierres de cristal" (1537-38, At the bottom of the fountain were two crystal stones). Guillaume insists with a detailed spatial disposition that the force of the marvelous is not on or above the fountain but deeply within it: "si m'abessai / Por veoir l'iaue qui coroit, / Et la gravele qui paroit / Au fons" (1524-27, I lowered myself to the ground to see the running water and the gravei at the bottom). In the Roman the lover must approach the fountain, bend over it, and look through the water down to the bottom where the crystals shine. The "mireors perilleus" of line 1571 is thus spatially above the marvelous crystals of line 1549. This spatial disposition seems to reinforce what we already know about the Roman: unlike Yvain the lover will stop at the fountain, will look deep inside, will, metaphorically speaking, look within. And yet, the spatial inversion puts the marvelous crystals beneath the surface of the perilous mirror. This is a reversal of the pattern we have seen of promises coming first and obstacles second. If Guillaume's reprisal of Chretien's fountain is meant to suggest a shift from outward-focused chivalric adventure to a more solitary, more self-focused quest, then this reversal should be read as a warning to the lover/dreamer. The perils that the enemy knight represented in Chretien will now come from within the lover himself and they threaten to block the promised vision of his quest.

Guillaume's reversal of the spatial disposition of Chretien's fountain image is complicated by the temporal disposition with which he develops the image. As the line numbers above make clear, the marvelous crystals, located inside the fountain and down at the bottom near the "gravele," appear to the reader on line 1549, before the perilous mirror (1571) of the surface of the fountain. At least the temporal surface of the text, then, guards the order of Chretien's marvelous/perilous polarity. This is a disconcerting but also reassuring temporality. Reassuring, because the apparent danger of the Narcissus example (1438-1510), which has preceded the Lover's look into the fountain, seems to be overcome by the appearance of the marvelous crystals (1538 and 1549). It is here that we learn that the Lover will not, like Narcissus, look into the fountain and see himself. Disconcerting, because no matter the textual and temporal layout of the image, it is not clear to the reader how the protagonist can see the marvelous crystals without looking through the "mireors perilleus" of line 1571.

This is a key moment of temporal, textual, and spatial aporia. For Claire Nouvet, the pool of Narcissus becomes an "abyssal temporal well" ("Reversing" 197). David Hult describes the scene as a "mise-en-abyme" (148). The temporal discontinuity winds itself even tighter as the scene continues. After describing the marvelous force of the crystals (1550) and then oddly coming back to the perilous surface of the mirror (1571), the narrator shifts again to a proleptic discourse of promise: "mes james n'orres miex descrivre / La verite de la matere / Com je la vous vodre retrere" (1600-1602, but, when I have revealed the mystery, you will never hear the truth of the matter better described). Immediately following this forward-looking promise, the Lover finally seems to see the perilous surface of the fountain and announces: "cis mireors m'a deceu" (1609, this mirror deceived me).Is On the surface, the temporal and spatial discontinuities of this scene point toward an abyss of infinite regress (Verhuyck 287). But they also possess a kind of chiastic logic: peril (Narcissus 1439-1513)--promise (crystals 1549)--peril (mirror 1571)--promise (revelation 1600)--peril (mirror 1609). Several critics have proposed a version of the same logic for this scene and more generally for the structure of Guillaume's romance. Nouvet's metaphor of the reversing mirror describes a "temporal collapse" that is later "amplified" ("Reversing" 197). Akbari describes "the symmetrical structure of this poem, in which the events of the poem's second hall mirror those of the first" (52). Heller-Roazen says "the anticipation articulated in the dream is the precise temporal inversion of the recollection with which the poem begins" (44). Gilbert says that the "passages celebrating and repudiating the crystals' vision appear as a diptych" (951). For her, then, the "logic of the mirror ... constitutes each interpretation as the other's specular counterpart and ensures that neither can establish final dominance" (Gilbert 951). The fountain and its varied surfaces seem to refract, invert, and reorient the direction of the protagonist and the narrative.

When the Lover arrives at the fountain and manages to glimpse the marvelous vision of things "sans couverture" (1557), 'without cover,' we seem to have arrived at the moment of fulfillment of the initial promises of the text. Instead we discover that the marvelous crystals are intertwined with and perhaps even dependent upon the threat or danger represented by the peril of the fountain. If, as David Hult (143) has so persuasively argued, the fountain heightens or refines the vision of the Lover, then it must be that that Lover's new vision (1571 and forward) allows him to recognize the peril that be did not recognize the first time he looked into the fountain and saw the crystals. This new vision, like Chretien's herdsman, seems paradoxically to expand and limit the protagonist's direction. From here on the threat to Guillaume's lover/protagonist is not the noise of another knight as we saw in Chretien but the noise of himself. This self, never really unified to this point (poet, dreamer, lover, narrator), will be allegorically multiplied after the fountain (Akbari 66). But it is not as if the new vision allows the lover to find or recognize this self. It he understands that the heretofore outward perils now reside within him, he continues to misrecognize them. And they continue to grow in strength. The rest of the poem depicts a series of encounters with images that are "the products of the subjectivity of the dreamer ... all misidentified by him as being other people" (Kay 80). (16)

This series of perilous encounters inverts the more promising ones from earlier in the romance. It is as if the lover and the reader understand progressively after the fountain scene that the object of the Lover's quest will never be achieved. The lover has seen the crystals, seen the perilous mirror, seen himself in the mirror--and feels deceived (1609) and betrayed (1614). I think it is helpful to think of the lover's plight here less in terms of a failure or incapacity to achieve self-knowledge (Akbari 19) and more in terms of the preoccupation we saw with a failed quest in the Calogrenant episode. Certainly if we think of Chretien's Perceval or the anonymous and more contemporary La Mort du Roi Arthur, we know that the consequences of an unfulfilled quest are a subject of interest to twelfth- and thirteenth-century French authors. (17) Indeed, rather than a quest for self-knowledge, I think Guillaume is more playfully experimenting with a first-person discourse. As Heller-Roazen puts it, the experiment consists of a poetic self that is "simultaneously constituted and deconstituted" (58). If the implied promise of the first half of the poem was that the dreamer would become a lover, the second half of the poem shows the devolution of the lover into someone and something else. The protagonist's persona has become "an irreducibly contingent poetic subject, who is himself in being capable, at the same time, of being someone other than himself and no longer being at all" (Heller-Roazen 28). (18)

The character who best embodies this "deconstitution" of the Lover is Dangier. (19) Dangier is thought to personify the unfavorable reaction or resistance of the beloved and is therefore a natural counterpart to Bel Acuel, who personifies the beloved's favorable reaction. (20) This interpretation is valid but does not cover the range of possible interpretations of this strange personification-become-character. (21) The Old French word itself is subject to a wide range of meanings. Godefroy's Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue francaise lists eleven definitions, ranging from power and domination to will, right, prison, attack, lack, and resistance. Von Wartburg adds pride and need to this list. (22) In the Roman I count at least thirty-four occurrences of the noun dangier, of which twenty-five refer to the personified character. All but two of these occurrences take place after the fountain scene. Mostly they serve to document the presence and progressive importance of the character Dangier. Yet, this asymmetrical disposition of the word reinforces the chiastic logic discussed above by mirroring the Lover's hopes of the first hall against the increasing resistance to his hopes in the second half. Dangier is not someone the lover overcomes as he overcame the negative personifications at the onset of the romance; he is rather a constant figure of tension and resistance and signals the lover's inability to reach the fulfillment promised at the beginning.

The two occurrences of the word before the fountain scene seem emblematic and merit brief consideration. The first occurrence of the word is in a discussion of Richesse: "Car tous li mondes la cremoit; / Tous li mons ert en son dangier. / En sa cort ot maint losengier" (1032-34, everyone feared her: the whole world was in her power. To her court came many a flatterer). This is the only instance in the Roman where the word dangier means power. (23) It is an important use of the word because it shows that the idea of dangier is dynamic and active. Richesse wields her dangier to instill fear and to get what she wants from her minions. While her exercise of power is productive and transformative, it also results in a certain kind of resistance (at least to love). Because of her power there are always "losengier," "traitor," "envieus" (1034-35, many a flatterer, many a traitor, many an envious man) who would be willing to put down ("desprisier") and accuse ("blamer") those who love (1037-38). Richesse's power, her dangier, is that through her money she can transform those around her into the antitypes of love: the losengier. (24)

We see the second occurrence of the word dangier before the fountain scene in the narration of the Amor's encounter with Narcissus: "Lors se sot bien Amors vengier / Du grant orgueil et du dangier / Que Narcisus li ot mene" (1489-91, Then Love knew how to avenge himself for the great pride and the resistance that Narcissus had directed toward him). This instance of the word feels very much like an inversion of the one examined above. Instead of giving Narcissus power and dominance, the dangier here is an example of just the opposite: an empty pride that results in a feeble resistance to the power of the god. (25) And yet, the results are similar. Amor, through his power, similar to that of Richesse, figures out a way to take vengeance on Narcissus, by transforming him into something else. Narcissus is "trahi" (1486) by his reflection in the water just as those surrounding Richesse become "traitor" through their envy of Richesse's power and money. The encounter of a dominating power with the strong or weak resistance to it results in a metamorphosis of character. The lover will not be an exception to this power dynamic. When he leaves the fountain that he entered full of hope, he is already transformed: "deceu" (1609) and "trahi" (1614). The result of the figurative power of love, love's dangier, is a betrayal that results in a mutation: one abandons oneself for/to someone else. (26)

The personified character Dangier appears quite late in the romance at lines 2825 and 2920. At this point, it is worth pausing again to remember the Calogrenant episode from Yvain. Critics have linked Chretien's herdsman and Dangier, mainly for the similarity of appearance. (27) The first words Chretien uses to introduce the herdsman are "uns vilains" (286). Guillaume uses the very same words to introduce Dangier: "mes uns vilains ..." (2825). (28) As vilain both characters embody the courtly antitype and therefore can be thought of as obstacles to love. But the key importance of the Calogrenant episode for our reading of Dangier is that Chretien's herdsman could in no way be conceived as an allegorical aspect of the beloved. There is no beloved at this point in his romance. The herdsman as vilain (286) stands off against the young Calogrenant as chevalier (356). If their existential encounter has any allegorical significance, it is that the knight's fear of the herdsman is a sign of his own fears--the fear that be too may have a bit of the vilain in himself. Critically, this intertext supports reading in the personified Dangier less a trait of the beloved than a trait of the protagonist. This shift is important because, if projected outward as a characteristic of the beloved, Dangier is conceived perhaps too narrowly as a negative force of resistance. (29) But when seen as an aspect of the Lover himself, Dangier is more dynamic, like the word itself ranging from power and mastery to resistance and attack, and like the herdsman in the Calogrenant episode, blocking and yet enabling the quest of the young knight. (30)

Just a couple of passages should suffice to show Dangier's own dynamic versatility. Ami tells the Lover quite directly that Dangier is not as dangerous as he first appeared: "Se vous l'aves felon trouve, / Il sera autres au darrenier" (3132-33, If you have found him to cruel, he will be quite otherwise at the end). Not long afterward, Franchise and Pitie convince Dangier to give in to the Lover: "Lors ne pot plus Dangier durer, / Il le couvint amesurer" (3317-18, Then Resistance could hold out no longer; be had to moderate his stand). The malleability of Dangier, suggested in these passages, has been interpreted to mean that his bark is fiercer than his bite (Owen 338). We could also read these passages to highlight Dangier's capacity to transform himself, to be other, and even to project himself into the other: "il sera autres" (3133). Once he tires of this shift toward the lover, he shifts back, takes up his stick angrily, and confronts the lover. The narrator tells us that "Dangier devient mout divers" (3762, Resistance becomes more cruel). Like Dahlberg, Dufournet translates "divers" as cruel, "desagreable." However, as Greimas's first three definitions of the word indicate, it can also mean varied, singular, inconstant (s.v. "divers": "varie," "singulier," "inconstant"). Dangier is a transformative force of diversity: resistance and power, obstacle and enabler. (31) He is other/"autres" and self. Dangier's power of diversity has been there all along, if we are allowed a bit of phonetic play. The Old French dangier is a two-syllable word, phonetically written, dan'dzjer. One does not have to stretch letters far to get the Old French "dans je y ert" (in I he will be). Dangier has always, already contained the je. He is a constitutive part of the lover's own character, his specular and contingent other.

This specular and chiastic relationship is nowhere more visible than in the most traditional frontispiece to manuscripts of the Romance of the Rose (Figure 1). This image reinforces the tension we saw in the Roman between a discourse of promise and fulfillment. My reading of Chretien's Yvain suggests that the unresolved tension in Guillaume is not an anomaly. It is something Guillaume got from Chretien, or something inherent in romance itself, or more broadly something that is part of a historical shift in the discourses available for self-representation. I would like to test this hypothesis by looking away from literary discourse altogether to a visualization of the Roman de la Rose in one manuscript's illuminations. These images function as a thirteenth-century reaction to Guillaume's story, a re-presentation. They retell the story, and in this visual retelling and its dialogue with the text I think we find a surprising and dramatic confirmation of the specularity we found above. (32) In particular, I will follow the way this manuscript depicts the dreamer's progress from his bedroom to the fountain.

The two competing discourses we found above--one of promise and the other of resistance--are fully represented in the incipit image of a Vatican manuscript of the Roman, Vatican Urbinatus Latinus 376, signed by Berthaud D'Achy, dated approximately 1280 (Figure 1). (33) The visual formula of this first image is simple and elegant: we have a representation of the subject, the object, and the obstacle that will come between them. The man in bed on the viewer's left is the dreamer, lover, and poet of the first lines of the poem. A rosebush, projected like wallpaper, rises on the wall from behind the bed. Dangier is to the viewer's right. (34)


If we read only this image, we could be tempted to say that the artist has decided that the text is an allegory of love fulfilled. That the lover is in his bed is the first sign of this fulfillment. The rosebush rising on the wall--in the vicinity of his knees or, if we remember the allusion to the tree of Jesse motif, out of his stomach or entrails--is a sign of the physical nature of his desire, a visualization of what the text will call the "rage" (1623) of love. The proximity of the sleeper and the rosebush reiterates the idea that the lover's quest has been fulfilled. The lover is in effect already in bed with the beloved. Subject and object are united. The threat of Dangier, in this reading, has been pushed aside. This domestication is reinforced by his courtly demeanor. Unlike the hairy churl that Calogrenant encountered and, indeed, unlike later frontispiece images of a rougher looking Dangier, the character we have here is scarcely distinguishable from the courtly lover himself. (35) His potential to threaten remains in the club, but this may also be the only clue the painter has to signal his identity. I think this interpretation is legitimate and convincing. However, the sequence of images in Urbs. Lat. 376 gives evidence of a complex and discontinuous slippage in the representation of the subject that unsettles this rather neat interpretation.

There are nineteen different images of the lover in the Guillaume section of the Vatican manuscript. It might be safer to say that there are nineteen incarnations of the lover, because the representation of the main character changes with some frequency. I would like to focus on just a few images that trace the lover's progress and illustrate the diverse subject positions he can embody. The image of the lover in Figure 2 occurs after the ten images of personified vices and shows the lover's first encounter with someone from inside the castle, the courtly Oiseuse. This is an important moment as the lover is about to cross the threshold from an outer to inner realm. One would assume that this liminal moment should represent a small triumph for the lover, the first stage of fulfillment predicted in the opening image and promised by the text. But several details here advance the visual narrative in a subtly different direction. First, we note that the lover is no longer tonsured. It is hard to interpret this feature since he will reappear tonsured later. (36) Perhaps the image is meant to suggest a shift in status, his transition from clerk and scribe (of the first part of the poem) to lover. We also notice that his and Oiesuse's hands fairly overtly echo the hand position of Hypocrisy (Figure 3), suggesting an implicit and subtle duplicity. (37) Finally, the lover now carries over his shoulder a walking stick. It echoes the club that Dangier carried in the first image. (38) The lover's extended hand also seems to suggest a sign of resistance, especially if we compare it to the extended hand gestures of Dangier in Figures 7 and 8. Each of these small visual signs undermines the apparent progress of the protagonist.



Already then, by only the fifth image we have of the lover, the fulfillment that the text promised and the incipit image seemed to support has been subtly put into question. The Vatican manuscript's next image of the lover shows him inside the garden with Courtoisie (Figure 4). (39) Like his entry into the castle, this should also be a moment of triumph for the lover, as it very much is in the text around the image. (40) But the hand positions of the lover and Courtoisie remind us again of the image of Hypocrisy in Figure 3. The lover's position as spectator off to the side of the dance is also an echo of the image of Envy (Figure 5). Even the exceptional downward turn of the lover's mouth resembles Envy's mouth. (41) These echoes of the artist's portrayals of the vices in the images of the lover's most important moments of progress undermine any sense that the obstacles outside the wall are being overcome. It seems as if the artist imagines the protagonist and his progress in an increasingly specular relation to the obstacles to love.

We know from the text that the image of Narcissus is only a temporary obstacle to the lover. He quickly looks beyond the perilous fountain and its deceptive surface to the marvelous crystals below. (42) And now we arrive at the surprising image of Figure 6, in which the rosebush is surrounded by actual women, three on each side. This image should be yet another culminating moment of fulfillment--at least visually. It should be the moment to show the magical vision of the crystals. And perhaps the Vatican artist envisions a kind of fulfillment in this image of what the crystals show. We could interpret the unexpected appearance of the women as a visual clue to the power of the marvelous crystals. Not only do they reveal the figure of the lover's desire, the rose, they also reveal the fulfillment, the lady herself. But this odd combination of literal and figurative representation contributes to a continued destabilization of the economy of promise and fulfillment, at least as we know it in the text. (43) Guillaume's crystals show flowers, not women. The odd mix of literal and figurative also recalls the conflation of figurative levels we noticed above in the portrait of Envy. Furthermore, this image puts half of the women, from the viewer's perspective, to the right of the rosebush in the same place that Dangier habitually occupies. (44) Indeed, it is noteworthy that Dangier appears in every image that contains the rosebush--except for this one. Based on this pattern, the three women here fill in for him in the space usually associated with the obstacle to the lover.




One more detail of this image is essential to note. The Vatican manuscript is quite exceptional in visualizing what the crystals show. The most common sequence of images includes Narcissus at the fountain and then subsequently Amor shooting the lover. A few manuscripts illustrate the lover looking into the fountain and seeing a rose or simply looking at a rosebush. (45) Our painter goes quite a bit further. The rosebush we see is the very image the crystals reveal. The painter puts us in the position of seeing with the eyes of the lover/ character. (46) The dark bifurcating line on the bench underneath the rosebush seems to replicate the bifurcated vision of the crystals. While the women on either side are not exact mirror images, their similarities do suggest the mirror effect of the crystals. They visualize what Gilbert called a "diptych, and thus reproduce the bifurcating action" of the crystals (951). Finally, unlike most of the visualizations of this scene, including Narcissus before the fountain and Amor shooting the lover in the Vatican manuscript, this image does not give us an extradiegetic perspective of the protagonist viewing the fountain or the rose. It seems to attempt an image of subjectivity itself. Sylvia Huot has said that the "narrative discourse gives way to lyric discourse" (89). This image parallels that textual shift. There is no frame. We see no fountain, no lover. We see only what he would see, what the crystals show. This blurring of perspective, like the blurring of figurative and literal, seems to intimate that the artist here, like Chretien and Guillaume, is experimenting with approaches to the representation of subjectivity.


The visualization of the lover's first encounter with Dangier continues to reinforce a specular relation between these two characters (Figure 7). In Figure 7 we have again the odd combination of a woman and the rosebush, both representing the beloved. This is the moment in the text where Bel Acuel has brought the lover into the garden right up to the rosebush (2823). The lover is about to reach out to touch the bud, when suddenly Dangier appears to prevent him. The woman's gesture, tugging the lover's hand in the direction of the rosebush and Dangier and Malebouche, seems to confirm our suspicions about Figure 6. (47) The literal representation of a rose and the more allegorical representation of the woman blur the line between figure/promise and fulfillment. She pulls him as much into the realm of obstacle and resistance as toward the fulfillment. Similarly Dangier and Malebouche are near perfect mirror images of the lover himself. Their "resistance" is reduced in this image to the raised hand and Dangier's stick, neither of which seems particularly menacing, especially if compared with the text.

This skeptical interpretation is renewed by the last image from the Guillaume text (Figure 8): a representation of Dangier and the rose without the lover. This image occurs near the end of the text (line 3754) just as Dangier becomes more angry and evil than ever. Perhaps the artist is beginning a transition to Jean de Meun's text and its much prolonged narration of fulfillment. Soon the lover will be physically isolated from the rose, and his absence here may be a foreshadowing of that isolation. But it is also possible that the artist wanted us to view this image even more paradoxically, to suggest, in effect, that the lover has succumbed to the discourse of peril and has himself morphed into the figure of Dangier, embodying the very resistance that has kept him from fulfilling his quest, ensuring that be will never fulfill his quest and thus suspending or disturbing the promise of romance. (48) The discourse of peril that Dangier represented at the beginning ends up becoming one with the discourse of fulfillment represented by the rose. The artist leaves us here with an even more dramatic example of discontinuity than Guillaume's text. The triangle of subject, object, obstacle, or of desire, beloved, and resistance is interrupted, broken off. No image could better embody lack of fulfillment than this one where the subject has simply disappeared. (49) It is as if the bed and dreamer of the incipit image have simply been cut away. The dream that was projected on the wall of the sleeping poet has materialized statically, almost like a paranoid fantasy of the unfulfilled quest. But if this is an image of the unfulfilled quest, it is perhaps surprising that it is not the object that has failed to materialize. Object and resistance remain intact; it is the protagonist himself who has become "deconstituted," other.


This examination of the instability and fluidity in the visual depiction of the protagonist leads us back to the frontispiece image. If the image is not an example of fulfillment, then how do we explain the dapper and courtly representation of Dangier? Small signs of mutability in the images of the protagonist suggest a quite unfixed identity for this manuscript's representation of the moi. The visual representation of Dangier seems capable of supporting a similar mutability. While the club is the most obvious visual sign of Dangier's identity (McMunn 87), he could also be identified in this manuscript through his hand gesture. We see this gesture (open hand, with arm fully extended in an apparent sign of refusal or resistance) in Figures 7 and 8. In the frontispiece image his hand is cocked slightly and his arm is not extended. Indeed, this more subtle open hand may be read as the opposite of resistance, a sign of acceptance or acquiescence. (50) Combined with Dangier's refined and courtly demeanor, this friendly gesture invites us to see an affinity between Dangier and the protagonist. Instead of "resistance," this Dangier offers acceptance and perhaps even promises the "power" that the Old French word also implies. The character that stands at the foot of the protagonist's bed is as much a vision of his future as the rosebush on the wall. (51) The frontispiece image, then, encapsulates the instability and fluidity of identity between the protagonist and Dangier.

We have looked at three specific instances of a contingent or discontinuous subject in romance. Two of these may be thought of as horizons of the Roman de la Rose. The examples from Chretien and the manuscript images suggest that the discordance at the heart of Guillaume's Roman is imaginable as something other than incompletion. I hesitate to claim that this discordance is systematic, though I am happy to embrace Heller-Roazen's term "contingency" as a way to describe the instability and movement of the subject we have seen in these three representations. The term certainly describes well the halting process of representing literary subjectivity in Guillaume's Roman. The logic of the Roman resists the unity implied in a more traditional image of romance conjointure, whether we conceive of conjointure thematically (loved and beloved coming together) or structurally (interweaving of varied source materials) (Uitti, Chretien 13-14). While I would not feel comfortable jumping from these three specific instances to a broader conclusion about romance, I do think these texts call into question the goals and direction of romance. They illustrate, like Chretien's Calogrenant (Yvain 356-58) and Guillaume's Narcissus, that the romance protagonist is in search of what he cannot find. (52)

University of Utah

I would like to acknowledge gracious help from Tom Stillinger, timely interventions by Joan Grenier-Winther and Esther Rashkin, and the inspiration to pursue this project from Jennifer Jacobi.

Images from manuscript Vatican Urbinatus Latinus 376 reproduced by permission of Bibloteca Apostolica Vaticana, with all rights reserved.

Works Cited

Agamben, Giorgio. Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture. 1977 Trans. Ronald L. Martinez. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.

Akbari, Suzanne Conklin. Seeing through the Veil. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2004.

Arden, Heather M. The Roman de la Rose: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1993.

Blamires, Alcuin, and Gail C. Holian. The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Tempe: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 223, 2002.

Braun, George M. "Dangier: A New Interpretation of Its Semantic Origin." French Review 7.6 (1934): 481-85.

Busby, Keith. "The Reception of Chretien's Calogrenant Episode." Tussentijds: bundle studies aangeboden aan W.P. Gerritsen ter gelegenheid van zijn vijftigste verjaardag. Utrecht: HES, 1985. 25-40 and notes, 327-29.

Chretien de Troyes. Le Chevalier au Lion ou le Roman d'Yvain. Ed. David E Hult. Paris: Livre de Poche: Lettres Gothiques, 1994.

--. Cliges. Ed. Charles Mela and Olivier Collet. Chretien de Troyes: Romans. Paris: Librarie Generale Francaise: Pochetheque, 1994. 285-494.

Dahlberg, Charles. "First Person and Personification in the Roman de la Rose: Amant and Dangier." Mediaevalia 3 (1977): 37-58.

Duggan, Joseph J. The Romances of Chretien de Troyes. New Haven: Yale UP, 2001.

Fleming, John V. The Roman de la Rose: A Study in Iconography. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969.

Frappier, Jean. L'Etude sur Yvain, ou Le chevalier au lion. Paris: Sedes, 1969.

Freeman, Michelle A. "Problems in Romance Composition: Ovid, Chretien de Troyes, and the Romance of the Rose." Romance Philology 30.1 (1976): 158-68.

Garnier, Francois. Le Langage de l'image au Moyen Age: Signification et Symbolique. Vol. 1. Paris: Le Leopard d'Or, 1982.

Gilbert, Jane." 'I am not he': Narcissus and Ironic Performativity in Medieval French Literature." Modern Language Review 100 (2005): 940-53.

Godefroy, Frederic Eugene. Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue francaise, et de tous les dialectes du IXe au XVe siecle. Paris: Vieweg-Bouillon, 1880-1902.

Greimas, A. J. Dictionnaire de l'Ancien Francais. Paris: Larousse, 1968. Grimbert, Joan Tasker. Yvain dans le miroir: Une poetique de la reflexion dans le Chevalier au lion de Chretien de Troyes. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1988.

Guillaume de Lorris. Le Roman de la Rose. Ed. Daniel Poirion. Trans. Jean Dufournet. Paris: Gallimard, 1999.

--. The Romance of the Rose. Trans. Charles Dahlberg. Hanover: UP of New England, 1971.

Heller-Roazen, Daniel. Fortune's Faces: The "Roman de la Rose" and the Poetics of Contingency. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2003.

Huchet, Jean-Charles. Litterature medievale et psychanalyse: Pour une clinique litteraire. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990.

Hult, David E "The Allegorical Fountain: Narcissus in the Roman de la Rose." Romanic Review 72.2 (1981): 125-48.

Hunt, Tony. "Le Chevalier au Lion : Yvain Lionheart." A Companion to Chretien de Troyes. Ed. Norris J. Lacy and Joan Tasker Grimbert. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005. 156-68.

--. Chretien de Troyes. Criticai Guide to French Texts. London: Grant and Cutler, 1986.

Huot, Sylvia. From Song to Book: The Poetics of Writing in Old French Lyric and Lyrical Narrative Poetry. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987.

Kay, Sarah. The Romance of the Rose. London: Grant and Cutler, 1995.

Kelly, Douglas. Medieval Imagination: Rhetoric and the Poetry of Courtly Love. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1978.

Konig, Eberhard. Der Rosenroman des Berthaud d'Achy. Codex Urbinatus Latinus 376, with an appendix by Gabriele Barz, facsimile, and commentary. 2 vols. Codices e Vaticanis selecti. 71 Zurich: Belser Verlag, 1987.

Lewis, C. S. The Allegory of Love. 1936. New York: Oxford UP, 1958. Lewis, Suzanne. "Images of Opening, Penetration, and Closure in the Roman de la Rose." Word and Image 8.3 (1992): 215-42.

McMunn, Meradith T. "Iconography of Dangier in the Illustrated Manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose." Romance Languages Annual 5 (1993): 86-90.

Menard, Philippe. "Les Representations des vices sur les murs du verger du Roman de la Rose : Le Texte et les enluminures." Texte et Image: Actes du Colloque international de Chantilly (1982). Paris: Belles Lettres, 1984. 177-90.

Meuwese, Martine. "Roses, Ruse and Romance. Iconographic Relationships between the Roman de la Rose and Arthurian Literature." De la Rose. Texte, Image, Fortune. Ed. Catherine Bel and Herman Braet. Louvain: Peeters, 2006.93-116.

Nouvet, Claire. "An Allegorical Mirror: The Pool of Narcissus in Guillaume de Lorris' Romance of the Rose." Romanic Review 91.4 (2000): 353-74.

--. "A Reversing Mirror: Guillaume de Lorris' Romance of the Rose." Translatio Studii: Essays by His Students in Honor of Karl D. Uitti for His Sixty-Fifth Birthday. Ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Kevin Brownlee, Mary B. Speer, and Lori Walters. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. 189-205.

Owen, D. D. R. "Calogrenant and the Dreamer: The Inspiration for the Roman de la Rose." Forum for Modern Language Studies 33.4 (1997): 328-40.

Ribard, Jacques. "Calogrenant, Cahus et La Rose." Du mythique au mystique. La Litterature medievale et ses symboles. Paris: Champion, 1995. 105-12.

--. <<L'Enigme Calogrenant.>> <<Por la soi amiste>>: Essays in Honor of Norris J. Lacy. Ed. Keith Busby and Catherine M. Jones. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. 425-34. Roman de la Rose Digital Library. <>

Sasaki, Sh. <<Dongier: Mutation de la poesie francaise du Moyen Age.>> Etudes de langue et de litterature francaise 24 (1974): 1-30.

Teskey, Gordon. Allegory and Violence. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996.

Tobler, Adolf, and Erhard Lommatzsch. Altfranzizosisches Worterbuch. Berlin: Weidmann; Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1915-.

Uitti, Karl D., with Michelle A. Freeman. Chretien de Troyes Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1995.

Uitti, Karl D. <<Le Chevalier au lion.>> The Romances of Chretien de Troye'. A Symposium. Ed. Douglas Kelly. Lexington: French Forum, 1985. 182-231 and notes, 330-35.

Verhuyck, Paul. <<Guillaume de Lorris ou la multiplication des cadres.>> Neophilologus 58 (1974): 283-93.

Wartburg, Walther von. Franzosisches etymologisches Worterbuch. Bonn: Klopp; Basel: Zbinden, 1928-.

Wetherbee, Winthrop. <<The Romance of the Rose and Medieval Allegory.>> The Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Ed. W. T. H. Jackson. 2 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1983.1: 309-35.

Whitman, Jon. Allegory" The Dynamics of an Ancient and Medieval Technique. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1987.

(1.) In 2003 Daniel Heller-Roazen said that "critics all condemn the romance for the same trait: the contingency of its form and structure" (8). In fact, as the list here shows, I believe that critics have for quite some time celebrated the case for contingency that Heller-Roazen so nicely contributes to. In 1981, David Hult said that "what seems at first glance to be a simple allegorical rendering of a tired set of romantic cliches is complicated by narrative and allegorical discontinuities" (125). In 1983 Winthrop Wetherbee claimed that the original dream of the romance, after a momentary intuition of fulfillment, is replaced not by hope and promise but by dislocation and unconscious fears (326). In 1990,Jean-Charles Huchet associated the Narcissus episode with Lacan's mirror stage (167) and suggested that Guillaume discovers the constitutive alienation of the subject and the inadequacy of desire and object (192). In Sarah Kay's 1995 criticai guide to the Roman, she said that by withholding the meaning of the dream, Guillaume leaves his major metaphors in suspension (20). In 2000 Claire Nouvet highlighted the "double vision" of Guillaume's allegory in the Narcissus episode ("Allegorical Mirror" 367). In 2003 Heller-Roazen showed the way the poetic self"is simultaneously constituted and deconstituted" (58). In 2005 Jane Gilbert showed how the Narcissus scene functions paradoxically through a negation that is simultaneously caught up in a larger process of affirmation (940). Finally in the visual realm, in 1992, Suzanne Lewis showed that the manuscript illustrations "constitute visual ruptures on the page that disrupt the very process of reading, interjecting another semiotic system" (215).

(2.) Ali line references to the Roman de la Rose are to the Poirion/Dufournet French edition. English translations, with an occasional modification, are from Dahlberg.

(3.) I am mainly indebted to Hult for my understanding of the Narcissus scene. Huot; Huchet; Nouvet; and Gilbert are also essential. See Arden for further bibliography.

(4.) To this point the warnings have mainly been implicit: the portraits of vice on the wall and the negative arrows. They will become more explicit with the commandments of Love and the more animated negative figures such as Dangier and Malebouche.

(5.) Paul Verhuyck's interesting reading proposes a "multiplication des cadres" wherein love is an "infinite and incommunicable mirage." While he sees no possibility of overcoming the infinite multiplication, be does conceive of it as a platonic hierarchy of Eros (286).

(6.) As Jon Whitman and Gordon Teskey suggest, the promise is a foundation of the doubleness of medieval allegory. Teskey's claim is that an allegory must provide "instructions" for its own interpretation (3). Whitman says that allegory "intriguingly suggests its own promise" (2). I feel strongly that Guillaume plays with the expectations, thematic and figurative, set up by his promises.

(7.) Heller-Roazen sees the concealment/unconcealment opposition as a displacement in an already existing chain of oppositions, starting with facts and falsification (38).

(8.) Here are the passages: "Mes ne dire pas ore toute / Lor forces et lor poetes; / Bien vous sera la verites / Contee et la signifiance. / Nel metre pas en obliance, / Ains vous dirai que tout ce monte / Aincois que je fine mon conte" (978-84, But I shall not now tell all about their force and power. I shall indeed recount to you the truth about them and their significance, and I shall not forget to do so; before I finish my story I will tell you what all this signifies); "Mes james n'orres miex descrivre / La verite de la matere / Com je la vous vodre retrere" (1600-1602, But, when I have revealed the mystery, you will never hear the truth of the matter better described); "La verite qui est couverte / Vous sera lores descouverte / Quant espondre m'orres le songe, / Car il n'i a mot de menconge" (2073-76, The truth, which is hidden, will be quite open to you when you hear me explain the dream, for it doesn't contain a word of lying). See Hult (139-40) for a more extended discussion of these promises.

(9.) For the Calogrenant episode, see especially Frappier; Hunt (Chretien); Uitti (Chretien and "Chevalier"); and Grimbert.

(10.) I am thinking mainly of Calogrenant's odd story of shame and failure that serves as a preface to the romance of the whole. But I also think that a juxtaposition of Calogrenant's and Yvain's adventures would show that Chretien is calling into question the very idea that chivalric adventure itself can be successful. D. D. R. Owen compares Calogrenant to Guillaume's failed lover (330). Uitti alludes to the link between Calogrenant's failure and Guillaume's protagonist ("Chevalier" 332-33 note 13). Keith Busby, on the other hand, thinks the relation between these two works is "an extremely vague one" (328 note 15).

(11.) Frappier (276) and Grimbert (27) interpret Yvain's adventures as the opportunity to overcome Calogrenant's failure.

(12.) For quotations from Yvain I use the Hult edition and my own translations.

(13.) "Maintes gens dient que en songes / N'a se fables non et menconges; / Mes l'en puet tex songes songier / Qui ne sont mie mencongier, / Ains sont apres apparissant" (Rose 1-5, Many men say that there is nothing in dreams but fables and lies, but one may have dreams which are not deceitful, whose import becomes quite clear afterward).

(14.) Frappier (276), Grimbert (27), and Uitti (Chretien 85) seem in agreement that Yvain's actions make up for his earlier shame. Hunt argues persuasively that the success of Yvain's adventures, including his battle with Gauvain and his final reconciliation with Laudine, is questionable ("Chevalier" 165-67). Duggan agrees: "The hero has regained his reputation, but that is not what persuades his wife to accept him again" (118).

(15.) See Nouvet ("Reversing" 196-97) for a more nuanced discussion of the shifting subject and verb tenses.

(16.) "The Lover does not recognize that these constituents 'lurk inside him,' as Joan Ferrante suggests" (qtd. in Blamires 45, from Ferrante, Woman as Image in Medieval Literature from the Twelfth Century to Dante [New York: Columbia UP, 1975] 111).

(17.) For the surprising predominance of failed romance heroes, see Ribard ("L'enigme" 432-33).

(18.) This capacity for contingency continues to echo with our reading of Chretien's Yvain. Yvain himself is not that unlike Guillaume's shifting protagonist. He first encounters the defender of the fountain, kills him, and then later becomes the defender himself, when he does battle with Keu. His transformation into the "chevalier au lion" further multiplies the shifting identities of Chretien's subject.

(19.) While I take Dangier as a premier example, I agree with Akbari that the protagonist identifies with and is mirrored by a whole series of characters after the fountain scene (66-71). Kelly agrees and sees the "lover's evolution from an inferior to a superior love" as based on the "interaction of his complex of abstractions with that surrounding the Rose" (86).

(20.) See Dufournet's editorial note (Guillaume de Lorris 2827) and Dahlberg 42.

(21.) The Sasaki article covers the broad range of interpretations of the word Dangier. See also Braun; Dahlberg; and C. S. Lewis (364-66). Kelly (85-90) has a long and rich discussion of the character Dangier in the Roman de la Rose. He claims that "there are two discrete configurations for Dangier that bring out distinct semantic possibilities in the word he personifies" (85). These configurations, according to Kelly, depend essentially upon the "company" (89) that be keeps. He is thus capable of granting or withholding, depending on the context and the characters surrounding him. Kelly sees the same ambiguity in the Lover, whose changes from "'outrage' to contemplation ... are evident in the comportment of Bel Acuel, Dangier, and Jalosie" (87). Without saying it explicitly, Kelly finds a symbiosis between the Lover and Dangier very similar to the one I will describe here.

(22.) Dangier comes from Latin "dominiarium" (Von Wartburg s.v. "dominiarium"). Greimas's definitions overlap with Godefroy's. Sasaki has the most extended discussion of these definitions, with multiple examples of each usage. For an even longer list of examples, see Tobler and Lommatzsch, s.v. "dangier."

(23.) When the word does not indicate the character, it is most associated with resistance, as in the example here from lines 1489-91. For other examples, see 1885, 1889, 3457, and 4020.

(24.) See also Sasaki (10-11).

(25.) Sasaki (19) notes that Guillaume lifts this passage directly from Chretien's Cliges, putting Narcissus in the place of Soredamor. The passage from Cliges reads: "Or la fera Amors dolente / Et molt se cuide bien venchier / Dou grant orgueil et dou dangier / Qu'ele li a touz jorz mene" (456-59, Now Love will make her suffer and takes great care to get revenge for the great pride and resistance she has always shown him). The parallel with Chretien is further sustained when we note that Soredamor, like Guillaume's Narcissus and the protagonist, will feel immediately betrayed: "traie" (Cliges 475).

(26.) Freeman does a comparative reading with Ovid that resonates here. More optimistically than me, she concludes the transmutation is an overcoming (166-67).

(27.) Ribard makes the case for the parallel with Dangier and Chretien's herdsman ("Calogrenant" 110). Wetherbee also notes the resemblance (327). Owen discusses the resemblance at greater length and more specifically (338). See also McMunn (88) and Sasaki (8).

(28.) Further similarities are striking. In Yvain: "vilains," "grans," "hideus," "laide creature," "vis plat," "barbe noire" (286-307) 'villian, big, hideous, ugly creature, flat faced, black beard.' In the Roman: "vilains," "grans," "noirs," "nes froncie," "vis hideus" (2920-24) 'villain, big, black, squeezed nose, hideous face.' Both characters are associated with the big stick they carry--Yvain: "une grant machue" (291); Roman: "un baston d'espine" (3157).

(29.) Sasaki discusses more positive interpretations of Dangier, but believes that the Dangier of the thirteenth century and Guillaume's Roman, associated mainly with the lady, has a negative valence (29). McMunn summarizes different approaches to Dangier, including approaches that associate him with the psychological restraint of the lady or lover (87).

(30.) Dahlberg suggests a positive reading of Dangier: "Amant's subjective perception of Dangier as an enemy is one that needs reconsideration" (46). It is worth noting for our later discussion that Dahlberg entertains this positive image because of the traditional frontispiece image.

(31.) Sasaki underlines the fundamental ambiguity of Guillaume's Dangier (23). Kelly too, arguing against C. S. Lewis, says that it is "erroneous to strive to reduce dangier to a single, all-inclusive meaning" (88) and emphasizes the "divarication of Dangier in the Rose" (89).

(32.) Whether or not manuscript images interpret or are in dialogue with their surrounding text is a subject of much debate (see Blamires and Holian xxvii-xxix).

(33.) I have consulted the Belser Verlag facsimile of the manuscript (See Konig).

(34.) Blamires and Holian discuss the traditional incipit image at length (31-40). Following Kuhn, they consider the rosebush a possible allusion to tree of Jesse iconography (33). More recently, Martine Meuwese has proposed that the rosebush image originates in visionary dream iconography rather than tree of Jesse motif (94-96). See McMunn for the iconography of Dangier.

(35.) Dangier's courtly demeanor in Figure 1 is not a given. He is often, especially in later manuscripts, depicted as a "gross, rough-bearded heavy figure, a caricature of oafishness" (Blamires and Holian 34-35).

(36.) This happens in the images on folios 7v and 21 (images not included here).

(37.) Hypocrisy, "papelardie," represents false piety and is usually depicted as a nun holding a Psalter (Blamires and Holian 60 and plate 23; Menard 182). I take the twofaced character of hypocrisy to be represented in the Vatican manuscript through the hand gestures: one over the heart points up, while the other covers the genitals and points downward.

(38.) Dangier himself carries a "slender baton" in a fourteenth-century manuscript in Geneva." Bibliotheque Canonale et Universitaire MS 178, f. 23er (See McMunn 87).

(39.) I follow the text in interpreting the woman here as "Courtoisie." Konig suggests it is Oiseuse (2: 180). See also Blamires and Holian (71-72).

(40.) "Et sachies que mout m'agrea" (791, You may know of course that I was very pleased).

(41.) It is traditional for Envy to look jealously at a pair of lovers (Menard 183 and Blamires and Holian 54-56). In Figure 5, the lover stands oddly between the personified vice and the couple. This figurative discontinuity (the lover portrayed in the same space as the personification of Envy he is supposed to be observing) seems unique to the Vatican manuscript. It underscores this artist's tendency to blur the lines between subject, obstacles, and object of the quest. A similar discontinuity occurs when the lover appears in the Vatican image of Sadness, folio 3r.

(42.) The Vatican image of Narcissus is typical. He looks into the spring, with a portrait of his head only, floating on the surface, and three trees in the background, folio 11r. See Fleming's figures 23, 25, and 26 for similar iconography.

(43.) The simultaneous literal and figurative representation of what the protagonist sees makes this image a good visualization of Giorgio Agamben's theory of the phantasm, which itself might help us understand--in different terms than I have put forward here--the protagonist's difficulty in obtaining the object of his desire. His object is at one and the same time sensible and "phantastic," in this case, a rose and a woman. Agamben explains: "the whole cognitive process is here conceived as speculation in the strict sense, a reflection of phantasms from mirror to mirror. The eyes and the sense are both mirror and water that reflect the form of the object, but phantasy is also speculation, which 'imagines' the phantasms in the absence of the object. To know is to bend over a mirror where the world is reflected, to descry images reflected from sphere to sphere: the medieval man was always before a mirror, both when he looked around himself and when he surrendered himself to his own imagination" (81). For further discussion of Agamben and this scene, see Nouvet, "Allegorical Mirror" 357.

(44.) The image of Dangier occurs four times in the Guillaume section of the Vatican manuscript: folios 1r, 19r, 19v, 24v. Each time, he is to the viewer's right of the rose.

(45.) Of the six thirteenth-century and the eighty-five fourteenth-century manuscripts currently on the <> site, only five visualize the rosebush the lover sees in the crystals: Bn fr 1558 folio 13v; Bn fr 1575 folio 12v; BM de Lyon 763 folio 11v; Bodleian, Selden Supra 57 folio 12v; and Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, A.B. 142 folio 11r. See also Blamires and Holian (72-74) and S. Lewis (Figure 15).

(46.) If my reading is correct, the image supports Hult's assertion that the "fountain functions as a change or refinement in one's vision" (143).

(47.) The tugging gesture seems unmistakably to draw the lover closer to the object of his desire. Compare it to Folio 7v, where the God of Love draws the woman toward the lover in the same fashion. Blamires and Holian discuss the tugging gesture in association with Oiseuse (69). See also the discussion in Garnier (199-205).

(48.) Gilbert makes a similar point with regard to the paradox of Narcissus: "to declare one's distance from Narcissus is to make oneself comparable to him" (953). Hult also discusses the "simultaneous affirmation and denial" in the Narcissus scene (136).

(49.) S. Lewis finds a similar example of a "total impasse" in an image of the Narcissus fountain with no lover reflected (224 and Figure 18). Huot's comments are also pertinent to my point: "Very few manuscripts illustrate l'Amant's final complaint. It is as though be has become a disembodied voice" (89).

(50.) Garnier's description of the open hand sums up the subtle ambiguity and bivalence of the gestures associated with Dangier in this manuscript: "La paume de la main ouverte tournee vers l'exterieur marque la receptivite d'une personne, a une exception pres, celle ou le bras en tension repousse une personne, un objet ou une idee" (174, The palm of the open hand, turned outward, marks the receptivity of a person, with one exception, when the extended arm refuses a person, object, or idea).

(51.) "In medieval iconography, juxtaposition of someone in bed and the subject of the dream behind the bed is a conventional device for visionary dream iconography" (Meuwese 94).

(52.) I am thinking of Guillaume's characterization of Narcissus at lines 1497-98: "il vit qu'il ne porroit / Acomplir ce qu'il desirroit" (he saw that he could not accomplish his desire).
COPYRIGHT 2011 Columbia University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Root, Jerry
Publication:The Romanic Review
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Previous Article:The play of repetition and resemblance in The Romance of the Rose.
Next Article:The glorified woman: abstraction and domination in Le Livre du voir dit.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters