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On footprints and poetic feet.

THIS ESSAY PURSUES TWO INTERRELATED QUESTIONS, both of them about feet and how they variously permit and constitute textual and geographic passages. The first concerns the fleshliness encoded in the idea of "poetic feet" and asks how use or knowledge of the prosodic terminology might have shaped medieval understandings of the nature of poetry, in particular its relation to categories of the incorporeal and corporeal, or the spirit and the flesh. By locating a potential frisson in measuring poetry through a fleshly metaphor, I do not mean to assume a preexisting binary between textuality and corporality. Medievalists have demonstrated the ways in which interpretation employed bodily metaphors, with proper reading passing through the carnal text toward a more spiritual truth. (1) But "feet" as a quantity used to measure poetry often seems to work differently than these suggestions of the carnal, obfuscating letter through which the discerning reader must pass. The insistent yet playful sense of physicality attending the idea of poetic feet suggests that the flesh will not be transcended through an engagement with poetry. Poetic feet are not seen through or discarded; rather, they must be accounted for, or counted; they are the body part from which poetry does not shake free.

Secondly, the essay considers descriptions and appearances of non-prosodic feet in medieval poetry, prose, and imagery, investigating how these might be related, even obliquely, to the metaphoric feet that measure poetic syllables or stress. The importance Christian sacred narrative places upon feet--those that breach the gates of Eden, travel roads, leave miraculous prints, become wounded, and break the frames of manuscript illumination--makes a space for prose writers to link that body part to the creation of narrative, even without the formal excuse or resource of meter. This is not to insistently divide poetry from prose, or poetic form from sacred plot, since certain works, I suggest, imbue the foot with a devotional charge not wholly unrelated to the implied fleshliness of prosodic terminology. The sacred plot that hinges on the incarnation of the Word produces and exists as a result of a literary environment whose vocabulary hints at its own incarnational desire: the imaginative wish for ordinary textual output to take flesh, feet first.

According to this sacred history, footfall also initiates narrative: Adam and Eve step beyond the limits of the garden into a dangerous, temporal world, an inner poetic or narrative restlessness manifesting itself as a rhythmic passage across the fallen ground. A medieval commonplace encourages one to apprehend life as a journey, whether pilgrimage or exile, (2) and the commencement of that journey, begun by the fall, is also a fall into language. (3) I am interested in how medieval texts approach the connection between steps and words that such a logic proposes: both rhythmic steps that measure meter, and narrative that insistently conjures the body. This body, the essay shows, marks out narrative limits, crisscrossing the earth in travelogues or stamping out the borders of the known world, but it also is conjured by the trace marked upon the ground or page, and strains to take flesh again through that commemorative print.

The rest of the introduction provides an overview of the ways in which feet appear, disappear, and variously structure and function in classical and medieval texts. The survey is wide ranging, but hardly exhaustive; it is meant simply to suggest the frequency and centrality of feet and their prints in narratives important to the medieval period. The subsequent two sections offer more sustained readings, the first on Dantes Inferno and the second on Mandeville's Travels; these correspond respectively to the two questions about prosodic and less metaphoric feet. I do not offer paradigms for how feet function in poetry and prose, but suggest possibilities for how we might understand their meanings in these different forms, and ultimately how prosodic vocabulary, understandings of embodiment, and poetic sensibilities might be shown to intersect.

It is easier to begin with poetry, whose basic units have, for centuries, taken their vocabulary from the plodding body. In his seventh-century Etymologies, Isidore of Seville writes that "[f]eet (pes) are what last for a certain time span of syllables, and never alter their fixed span. They are called 'feet' because in using them the meters 'walk.' Just as we step with our feet, so the meters also advance, as it were, by means of feet" [pedes sunt, qui certis syllabarum temporibus insistunt, nec a legitimo spatio umquam recedunt. Pedes dicti eo, quod per ipsos metra ambulent. Nam sicut nos pedibus incedimus, ita metra quasi pedibus gradiuntur]. (4) Isidore links the prosodic term to the physical body again when he conjures the soles that trudge rhythmically along: "In each foot there occurs an arsis (arsis) and a thesis (thesis), that is, a raising and a lowering of the voice--for the feet would not be able to follow a road unless they were alternately raised and lowered" [Accidunt unicuique pedi arsis et thesis, id est elevatio et positio vocis. Neque enim iter pedes dirigere poterunt, nisi alterna vice leventur et ponantur]. (5)

Writers before and after Isidore use the term "feet" to measure metrical poetry, though how that measuring works changes. (6) Aldhelm, for instance, uses the word in his De pedum regulis, which attempts to teach differences in Latin syllable length to a readership now approaching that language as a foreign one. (7) In the eighth century, Bede writes that the term relates to the Latin for "footrule," or "pedali regula": we use feet, he suggests, "like a foot-rule to measure a verse" [quasi pedali regula ad versum utimur mensurandum]. (8) The "foot" continues to appear in twelfth- and thirteenth-century works on the arts of versification. (9) In the Ars versificatoria, Matthew of Vendome warns that verse is more than "the counting of feet" [dinumeratio pedum], suggesting, perhaps, a fixation on just that aspect. (10) John of Garland spends more time considering the term in Parisiana poetria, in which he offers a fairly straightforward definition: "A foot is a certain length of syllables and quantities. A verse is a regular grouping of these feet" [Pes est certa dimensio sillabarum et temporum. Versus est ipsorum pedum comprehensio regularis]. (11) But elsewhere he makes playful connections between physical feet and narrative. The beginning of his text, for instance, opens with an extended metaphor on stumbling feet and footholds: "We have often seen the foot stumble in the plain. Lest the foot find no foothold, art's straight-edge provides a bridge; put your foot back on that bridge" [Vidimus in plano sepe labare pedem. / Ne pes ignoret ubi sistere debeat, artis / Regula dat pontem; ponte repone pedem]. (12) Garland later adds that texts with over long conclusions make it seem "as if the human foot were bigger than the torso" [ut si pes humanus esset maior corpore humano], relating variations in textual form to the idiosyncrasies of embodiment. (13)

The idea of poetic feet in the above examples clearly begins to function in excess of purely metric quantification, something that becomes even more noticeable in the works of the poets. In the Tristia, Ovid's poems of exile, the poet connects the limping meter of his elegiac verse with the sorrow that comes from travelling far from home; the description of his uneven gait refers both to his meter and to his weary soles as they cover foreign ground. (14) Moving away from prosody, there are also the numerous instances that foreground the body part as the engine setting events in motion: tragedy seeps in through Achilles' heel, the only portion his mother could not protect, and ancient Greek plots advance through the putting on and taking off of sandals. (15) The sphinx, too, knew that the basic story of human life could be told by counting feet: the inevitable arc from youth to age cryptically economized as four, two, and three, the changing quantities that measure out the lifespan of Oedipus, the man named after his own foot.

But even with these examples in mind, the invitation to associate feet with the production and measuring of more ethereal things--thought, plot, meter, language--can seem strange, in part because of the lowliness of the body part: its distance from the heart and mind, its abasement and proximity to the ground. This is particularly true in the Middle Ages, when the foot frequently was understood as rough, foul, and inescapably physical. Medieval conceptions of the body politic deliberately figured feet as the "peasants and workers": necessary, but beneath all other social strata. (16) Feet anchor the lower half of the body, the part associated with sin, filth, and sexuality, far removed from the more spiritual regions. (17) Chaucer's Parson points out that God "ne made nat womman of the foot of Adam, for she ne sholde nat been holden to lowe" [God did not make woman out of the foot of Adam, for she should not be held too low](X 927). (18) More than any other body part, feet come to stand for the corporeal, even in bodies actively in the process of transcending that corporeality: Christ's dangle at the top of Ascension paintings, the last portion of his human body subsumed into heaven, and the most stubborn remains of incarnation. (19)

This, then, is another way to think about feet: the iconography of the ascending Christ, with his bare feet hovering at the top of paintings, suggests the potency of the humble body part as a devotional resource, and demonstrates the fusing of vulnerability and power so in keeping with late medieval Christian theology and religious practice. Late medieval texts are trafficked heavily by the movingly described foot and worshipped print whose meanings sacred history shapes. Both bejeweled and bare, feet appear to dramatic effect in medieval images and as art objects, sometimes sumptuously decorated, sometimes in ways that evoke their vulnerability, and sometimes in a manner that superimposes richness upon humility. Feet are adorned with gold leaf, like the body-part reliquaries of Saint Andrew and Saint Blaise, which hold their bits of sandal and bone, recalling the far-flung pilgrimages of the foot-sore apostles. (20) Images of Christ's holy feet appear in various forms: indenting the redeemed earth; pierced and bleeding; foregrounded and fragmented from the rest of the body in arma Christi iconography; (21) and hanging out of those celestial clouds in Ascension paintings. Even his footprints become a much-visited site of pilgrimage. Mandeville reports that Christ's left sole remains gouged in the rock just outside of Jerusalem, a point I will return to later.

When feet attach to more ordinary bodies in medieval images, they often seem peculiarly resistant to representational frames. They step out beyond image borders, toe margins, ask to be noticed, and call into question the ontological status of the bodies to which they belong. Combining these two iconographic categories of frame-breaking human and barefooted divinity, we have the famous image of God the geometer, holding a compass and bending over his spherical creation, backed by luminous gold leaf in a thirteenth-century Bible moralisee. The divine body extends his foot beyond the frame almost as if to force the ontological question that the image poses at large, inviting viewers to ponder the chronology and primacy of multiple planes of existence and the sequence of creation. Or, on a much smaller, human scale of creation, there is the ground that becomes generative in the wake of the beloved: the footsteps that, in Petrarchan poetry, produce and fill with flowers, the fertile, foot-shaped indentations that sprout living, growing things. (22)

Like Ovid, some medieval poets linger suggestively over the bodily terminology, acknowledging the propensity for feet simultaneously to conjure forth the body and to produce and measure poetry. Chaucers most explicit description of the feet that measure poetry occurs in the Canterbury Tales, when the Monk offers to tell a "tragedie" as his contribution to the game. This form, attests the pilgrim, "ben versified communely / Of six feet, which men clepen exametron" (VII 1978-79). The Monk's tale then goes on to last for a few feet too many; both the Knight and the Host interrupt him ("namoore of this!"), and Harry Bailey, in frustration, reduces the tale, whose persistent tragic content disturbs him, to no more than its monotonous rhythm (VII 2767, 2788). If not for the bells on the horse's bridle, he impatiently claims, he would have fallen asleep long ago:
   For sikerly, nere clynkyng of youre belles
   That on youre bridel hange on every syde,
   By hevene kyng that for us alie dyde,
   I sholde er this han fallen doun for sleep,
   VII 2794-97

Here, as in Isidore's description of meter, we have the suggestion of a plodding body (albeit a horse's), moving arsis and thesis along the road to Canterbury: the harness bells clink in time to the trot of the horse, and the horse moves in sync with the poetic feet of the Monk's overlong tale.

In the Canterbury Tales, feet are both acknowledged as a kind of poetic organization and used in their fleshly form to trudge along the road, harness bells ringing, to the never-reached shrine of Saint Thomas. Chaucer makes much of the Parson's walking, especially, for even if this humblest pilgrim finds feet too lowly for the creation of Eve, they are his own major devotional resource: though his parishioners live "fer asonder," he does not fail, in "reyne ne thonder /[...] to visite / The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite, / Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf" (I 491-95). The parson's piety takes the form of crossing this far-flung community, the ground or "erthe" that, in his tale, he will describe as the "bench of [God's] feet" (X 589). And when Chaucer himself, as both real and fictional poet, begs a moment to introduce his Active, fellow pilgrims, he says he will do so "Er that I ferther in this tale pace," letting "pace" suggest both fictional walking and real poetic momentum (I 36). When the pilgrim Chaucer tells his own failed tale of Sir Thopas, his stilted verse stumbles along like the "priking" hooves of his hero's exhausted, beaten horse. "Priking" gets repeated over and over again: the poor horse labors for nothing, and the poem goes around in circles, covering and re-covering the trampled ground. (23)

Despite these playful connections and weary horses, however, it sometimes can seem like a stubborn, even perverse refusal of metaphoric thought to magnify the physicality of the prosodic term and the body or bodies it might conjure. The argument against trying to find a meaningful connection between the idea of poetic feet and other instances of more fleshly feet is that the prosodic phrase works merely as a concept of organizational convenience; after all, when poets do acknowledge the feet with which they work, the move often seems to register as no more than a punning aside, as in the case of the frustrated host and Knight, protesting on what begins to seem like a very long road. But considering feet understood to constitute and measure poetry alongside descriptions of fleshly feet and haunting footprints can reveal other interpretive possibilities, as well.

For instance, feet often work as markers of poetic inheritance, as when a medieval poet places his feet in the tread of a classical one. Dante carefully steps where Virgil does as he picks his way through hell, modifying his pace, direction, and emotions to follow in the wake of his dead guide (1.23).24 One literal step removed from the footprint, there are the steps on which Chaucer imagines his beloved poets--"Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace"--to "pace," these poets whose metaphorical traces he stoops to kiss at the end of Troilus and Criseyde (5.1791-92). Lydgate, bolstered by multiple layers of poetic inheritance in The Siege of Thebes, superimposes a classical foot with the reminder of a Christian one, translating the story of Oedipus as he joins the pilgrims on their route home from Canterbury. Calibrating his walking and talking to the imagined pace of his new community, he promises his tale will last "a longe while, / The space as I suppose of vii. myle." (25) The infant Oedipus, cut down like Christ from a "tre," has his broken feet tended to by the king of Arcadia in an all-male pieta (1.443):
   And whan that he first be chyld gan See,
   Of his woundes he hadde grete pyte,
   To beholde his tender fete so blede;
   And called hym Edippus as I rede,
   which is to seyn, (platly this no phage),
   Bored the feete as in that langage.

Lydgate translates the name of Oedipus to draw attention to the feet that, in his poetry, also recall Christ's wounded pair, evoking various injuries as he walks his way through a seven-mile story. And, of course, just as medieval poets translated classical names and plots, writers on rhetoric and the arts of versification found themselves similarly employed in retrospection, drawing their examples of prosody from earlier Latin verse and demonstrating how the values and rules of classical poetics might be transferred into and transformed by their own vernaculars.

My first extended reading takes up this sprawling issue of poetic inheritance by looking at one particular relationship: that between Virgil and Dante in the Inferno. Paying close attention to the feet and prints of humans and ghosts, I consider what it means when a fictively living body follows in the footsteps of a less--or differently-corporeal poet. In the second reading, I turn to Mandeville's Travels to examine how marks made by the body upon the thoroughfare of the world might be understood as laying the literal groundwork for narrative production. In this shift from poetry to prose, the relationship between prosodic metaphor and fleshly description, even between foot and print, is not entirely straightforward. A footprint can suggest absence and presence, a real earthly mark and an incorporeal memory. Likewise, the feet of a ghostly poet walks the line between body and spirit, his footfalls reminding one of the prosody of poetry that, particularly to a poetic disciple, might seem more alive than his own spectral body. In the following readings, I explore how feet, a hintingly physical prosodic vocabulary, and the prints of now absent but crucially resurrected figures offer multiple hinges between sign and substance, and between spirit and flesh.


In Dantes Inferno, the shock of the poet's fictionally physical body continually calls into question the nature of the material environment and the corporeality of the dead he encounters. At the entrance to hell, the boatman Charon recognizes that Dante has a living soul, an "anima viva" that somehow adds weight to the pilgrim's physical frame (3.88). Dante literally rocks boats: when it is time to be ferried across the swampy Styx, the vessel into which he descends starts to pitch. The same does not happen when Virgil steps into it, only when Dante lowers his own singular heft, his unique status indicated by the unexpected displacement of water (8.25-30). In canto 12, the centaur Chiron marvels at the special capacity of Dante's body by pointing out the poet's tread to his companions:
                        Siete voi accorti
   che quel di retro move cio ch'el tocca?
            Cosi non soglion far li pie d'il morti.

                       [Have you yet seen
   the one behind, how all he touches moves?
           A normal dead man's feet would not do that.]

In canto 16, the first sinner to speak notes the poet's ability to move unscathed across the deadly geography of hell, asking whose feet possibly could work in such a way:
   a dirne chi tu se', che i vivi piedi
   cosi sicuro per lo 'nferno freghi.

   [And who are you--now tell--whose living step,
   in perfect safety, scours the paths of hell?]

Dante's miraculous, weighted mobility helps the shades to realize his difference: that he has both a living soul ("anima viva") and living feet ("vivi piedi") that will enable him to walk beyond their circle of punishment.

But even if their own feet cannot move the small stones littering the scree or carry them beyond their pockets of punishment, the dead of Inferno clearly have physical bodies, too, for the bulk of Dante's poem is devoted to their suffering. The undeniable corporeality of the cleverly weightless dead draws attention to what John Freccero has referred to as the counterfeiting effect of "infernal" poetry: the Inferno presents a "poetics of death," in which all is letter and nothing is spirit; there is no spiritual meaning signified by the letter of the bodily sign. These dead are represented only bodily, and their bodies are the signs or letters by which nothing further is signified. (26) And, of course, this spiritless corporeality includes feet; in one of the lower pockets, the shades' legs protrude from holes, their soles lapped in flame:
         Fuor de la bocea a ciascun soperchiava
   d'un peccator li piedi e de le gambe
   infino al grosso, e l'altro dentro stava.

           [Out of the mouth of every single hole
   there floated up a pair of sinner feet,
   legs to the ham on show, the rest concealed.]

Underscoring the absence of meaning associated with these corporeal signs--the inability of feet ("piedi") coming out of a mouth ("bocca"), in lieu of language, to signify--one sinner angrily slaps his soles together, "forte spingave con ambo le piote," rendering a frustrated and inarticulate response to Dante's singing tirade (19.118-120).

But Virgil sometimes seems to occupy a conceptual category in between Dante's corporality and the weightless dead, with his own body operating in a manner in between the poet's "living feet" and the nonsensical, burning soles of canto 19. In the last stanza of canto 23, Dante follows his unhappy guide, the latter angered at the diabolically bad directions he realizes he has been given:
           Appresso il duca a gran passi sen gi,
   turbato un poco d'ira nel sembiante
   ond' io da li 'ncarcati mi parti'
           dietro a le poste de le care piante.

          [At this, with lengthened pace, my lord strode off,
   clear signs of anger flitting on his face.
   And so I left these beings with their loads
          to follow in the prints of his dear feet.]

The living poet follows in the prints of his classical idol, stepping onto the stony ground over which Virgil passes, aligning his own feet with his guide's in an image even more tenderly reverent than that of Chaucer kissing the steps where his cherished precursors "pace." (27) This moment in which pilgrim follows in guide's footsteps elegantly encapsulates a relationship whose various valences play out across the Inferno. Dante moves in Virgil's tread in order to move forward (downward) in the correct direction in a geographic sense, obediently following one who knows the way, or some of the rules for some of the way. But the footsteps also hint at the poetic feet that measure Virgil's poetry, poetry that Dante desires, at least for a while, to emulate. "Piante," admittedly, means "soles" rather than feet, (28) and so conjures the prosodic term by association rather than verbatim. (29) And although both Kirkpatrick and Mandelbaum are moved to translate "poste" as "prints," it is unclear what kind of mark the poet's (bare?) feet leave upon the rocky foundations. Perhaps a fleeting, damp impression? A trace of dust as the mud from previous circles falls away? Or maybe Dante simply steps exactly where he sees his guide's feet land, adopting the shades stride and momentum as he picks his way along the path.

Virgil's tread is mentioned in a canto that features walking with unusual prominence: it animates metaphors, describes geographic progress, and possibly, as at least one translator suggests, corresponds to poetic pacing. (30) The canto begins with guide and pilgrim moving in single file, "come frati minor," that is, as Franciscans, an order known for their extensive perambulations (23.3). (31) The next tercet moves from Christian to classical centuries; "[m]y mind turned," Dante muses, still contemplating the turmoil of the previous canto, "to Aesop and his fables, most of all / the one de la rana e del topo," or the frog and the mouse (23.4-6). The fable warns of the difficulties of partnered movement: a frog and a mouse tie their legs together; when the frog glides across the water, the mouse is dragged along and drowns. A hawk then swoops down to capture the dead mouse, and the frog, still entangled, is lifted along to its own certain death. Frog and mouse are not meant to be together; it is against the order of things, and so there is no way forward unless they sever their connection. (32) It is like the tragic story of Dante and Virgil, though without the easily moralized cruelty of the frog in some versions. The poets are hobbled by the connection of their own feet--connected here by a kind of visual hopscotch rather than by rope--and so, to be saved, Dante eventually must step beyond the prints of his dear guide.

But after this Aesopian musing, and as if in defiance of it, Dante and Virgil connect their bodies even more emphatically in order to run away from demons, as the guide lifts and carries the pilgrim like a mother snatching her child away from fire (23.38-41). When pilgrim and guide stop running, they encounter the next cadre of sinners, the hypocrites, who move like Cluniac Benedictines, their robes leaded, their gate agonizingly slow (23.63). The sinners' circling, repetitive route, slowed by their weighted robes and by the "via stretta" (narrow path), reemphasizes the truth that dawns upon the poets: there is no need to run, for those who chase them are bound to remain in their own circles (23.84). The demons cannot follow them further, because they cannot deviate from the ditch to which they are assigned (23.55-57). The order that restricts the motion of the infernal dead produces an unproductive and punishing kind of walking, not wholly unrelated to the sort Dante nervously proposes in canto 8 outside of the city of Dis: "ritroviam forme nostre insieme ratto" [then let us quickly trace our footsteps back] (8.102). Such regressive thinking and walking would return the pilgrim to the crisis of his beginning, when the leopard frightened him so much, "ch'i' fui per ritornar piu volte volto" [I'd half a mind at every turn to turn], a panic that threatens to make both his physical progress and his poetry loop back upon itself (1.36). The "via stretta" (narrow path) in which the Benedictine-like shades dolefully tread is not like the "angusta porta" (narrow gate) from the Gospel of Matthew (7:13), because the path in hell does not lead to life; infernal paths lead nowhere, except around in circles.

This focus on the body part participating in the prosodic term "poetic feet"--in a poem about two walking poets, one who will walk farther than the other--suggests both a desire for poetry to take on flesh and the admission of its inability to do so. For although the hint of physicality in the idea of poetic feet indicates the double guidance (geographic and poetic) that Virgil provides for his temporary disciple, the almost-pun in the depths of hell also crucially recalls a different kind of flesh and spirit connection that cannot occur amongst the damned. Medieval Christian poetry retains at its imaginative center the idea of a Word that itself becomes flesh, a process that cannot be understood clearly, put into other, ordinary words, or precisely emulated. (33) Human words cannot become incarnate. But within this medieval Christian conceptual framework, a poetic form that measures and marks itself in feet seems to intimate an incarnational desire: that struggle to become flesh, beginning with the part that in the end even the ascending Christ seems most reluctant to relinquish. Such an incarnational desire relates to the fervent wish that poetry might throw a revivifying cast across the shades of revered but frustratingly spectral poets. We might read the traces of Virgil's soles, marked on stone or just imagined there by Dante, as an indication of a straining to become flesh: the kind of dead or dead letter that is almost resurrected, almost reanimated. Such a powerful poetry could re-produce and sustain the beloved shade who miraculously leaves damp prints on the rocky floor, or whose feet indent or alter (like Dante's, like Christ's) infernal terrain altogether.

The point is, for Dante, Virgil's identity as poet continually threatens to trump his identity as a shade, in part because of how forceful the latter's poetry remains. Even Statius, the dead poet who makes it to purgatory, mistakes Virgil's ghostly feet for fleshly ones in that second canticle. He bends to kiss them in the twenty-first canto, before Virgil reminds him that they both are insubstantial (21.130-132). Standing, Statius says:
          Or puoi la quantitate
   comprender dell'amor cha te mi scalda,
   quand' io dismento nostra vanitate,
   trattando l'ombre come cosa salda.

          [Now you grasp how great
   the love that warms my heart for you must be,
   when I dismiss from mind our emptiness,
   treating a shadow as a thing of weight.]
                                         (21.133-36) (34)

Statius's love for Virgil, his favorite poet, has made him misrecognize the incorporeal as corporeal, has made him attempt to kiss ghostly feet as if they were fleshly ones. It is, perhaps, the cognitive work the pilgrim Dante attempts to perform, or invites his readers to experience: the struggle to see living feet ("vivi piedi") where there is only a trace, or the wish for a trace ("le poste de le care piante"). Or, then again, maybe Dante already has come close to perceiving the limitations of his beloved guide; certainly no living, growing things are sprouting in Virgil's infernal wake. It takes the "living feet" of Dante to step into the footprints, to commemorate them, and to understand them as "dear." (35) For here, in the last third of Inferno, Dante's devotion perhaps has begun to turn into an anticipatory mourning, as the knowledge that a new poetic inspiration must be found: frog and mouse must part, and preparation made to step beyond the world.


Mandeville's Travels features a footprint gouged in stone that suggests how this stepping beyond the world occurs. In this section, I argue that even when the suggestive intimations of the prosodic term "poetic feet" drop out, travel literature, requiring the arsis and thesis of a setting forth, retains the foot and footprint at its center. Moreover, my reading of Mandeville's Travels suggests that this might be true even of genres other than travel writing: that there exists a deep connection between movement--measured in steps, feet, or footprints--and narrative progression that the travelogue just foregrounds more deliberately than other genres.

Medieval sacred narrative locates the connection between feet and narrative at the inception of history, when Adam and Eve use theirs to breach the gates of Eden, the serpents lying in wait, ready to be crushed by their vulnerable heels. (36) History begins as human feet cross the threshold of the earthly paradise and press into fallen, clayey ground. Adam and Eve step into history, make history, and make geography, too, the first mark or graph upon the earth. (37) This is well-travelled conceptual ground: the fall is a fall into history, into language, into temporality, and so into the conditions for narrative, and narrative is something that requires divisibility, fragmentation, a breaking into parts, a passing or passage made of many individual steps (Middle English "pas"). And these conditions begin, or they begin to be taken advantage of, when Adam and Eve step through the gates, their feet pressing into the earth: thesis, the downbeat of what will be the very long song of human history.

But this section begins with what is represented clearly as a last step: the indentation left by Christ on the Mount of Olives. It is a footprint hordes of pilgrims will gather around across medieval centuries, following the well-worn paths of religious itineraries and trade routes, making tracks in the dust through a world marked out by human feet, coming to worship the imprint of a god who takes his time leaving behind his own pierced pair. The anonymous, Anglo-Saxon writer of the tenth-century Blickling Homilies describes Christs Mount of Olives prints in a sermon for Holy or Maundy Thursday ("maundy" from "mandatum," the commandment to wash the feet of the poor as a way of remembering Christ who washed those of his disciples). (38) Pilgrims occasionally take bits of earth ("moldan") from the footprints as relics and cures, but this never disturbs or alters their permanent size and shape; they have, writes the homilist, "the same appearance as that in which they were first impressed upon the earth. Our lord let his holy feet sink into the earth there for a perpetual remembrance to men" [on paere ilcan onsyne pe hie paer on forman on pa eorpan bestapene waeron. Forlet he ure Drihten his pa halgan fet paer on paa eorpen besincan mannum to ecre gemynde]. (39)

Much later, Mandeville will encounter the same site, or imagine it in the Travels. But whereas the Blickling writer suggests multiple prints, Mandeville is very clear that he sees only one, and its significance resides in its singularity:

And aboue bat vale is the mount of Olyuete And it is cleped so for the plentee of Olyues bat growen bere. bat mount is more high ban the cytee of lerusalem is And berfore may men vpon bat mount see manye of the stretes of the cytee And betwene bat mount & the cytee is not but the vale of Iosaphath bat is not full large & fro bat mount steigh oure lord Ihesu crist to heuene vpon Ascensioun day And zit bere scheweth the schapp of his left foot in the ston. (40)

And above that valley is the Mount of Olives. And it is called so for the plentiful amount of olives that grow there. That mount is higher than the city of Jerusalem is, and therefore men upon that mount may see many of the streets of the city. And between that mount and the city is nothing but the valley of Jehoshaphat, which is not very large, and from that mount our lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven on Ascension Day. And still there appears the shape of his left foot in the stone.

Mandeville's implication is that there isn't a right print to follow the left one Christ makes in the rock, because Christ's right foot reaches into heaven. There is no subsequent bodily mark beyond this hill and no surface on which to make a mark, because the celestial sphere exists beyond the need for record. This single print, from which Christ pushes off to step into paradise at the moment of his Ascension (right foot first), marks the start of a space that cannot be measured, inscribed by history, or advertised by travel writers.

To borrow a term from the medieval English ritual of marking out parish borders on Rogation Day--when villagers walked the edges of their geographic community (41)--Christ has "beaten the bounds," or reconfirmed with his own bodily imprint the edges of a fallen world in the process of being redeemed. Beyond his footprint is something other than the known world visibly inscribed with the redemptive work of sacred history, which, in Mandeville's description of Jerusalem and its environs, leaves its mark everywhere: in the red rocks stained white where Mary's breast milk spilled upon them (46-47); in the ground holding hoof prints of the donkey Christ rode on Palm Sunday (53); in the rocky wall retaining the "forme" of Moses's body, from when he fled toward it in fear, dazzled by the sight of God (41). Beyond the left footprint of Christ exists a realm without need of a right one; it is apart from inscription or description.

No one knows for sure how far the author we call Mandeville actually got, whether to the Holy Land, China, or not much further than his own country (purportedly England, possibly France). (42) But it is interesting to think of him on the Mount of Olives, looking down into the streets of Jerusalem, its homes and shops lamp lit, the tourists thronging the miracle sites, the navel of the quotidian world as urban center down below. And on the hill, imprinted in the rock, the physical memory of Christ's foot, the very last mark he pressed into the ground. For here is where Mandeville encounters one edge or limit of the world, whether we understand that world as traversed in the flesh or realized through narrative. I don't mean "limit" in the sense of the edge of a flat earth. The Travels famously insist that the world is round, pointing out that a man who sets off travelling in one direction eventually might reencounter his home from the opposite approach. Using an image similar to one found in Dante's Convivio (3.5), Mandeville suggests that the soles of the feet of those who inhabit one hemisphere align in a ghostly balance with those in the opposite one:

For zee wyten well bat bei bat ben toward the antartyk bei ben streght feet azen feet of hem bat dwellen vnder be Transmontane (43) also well as wee & bei bat dwellyn vnder vs ben feet azenst feet. (121)

[For you know well that those who are near the Antarctic are directly feet against feet from those who dwell under the Transmontane, as we as well and those that dwell under us are feet against feet.]

His description of the spherical world conveys a sense of vast distances as well as a strange sort of tenderness. All the populations of the world stretch to touch one another with the unprotected underside of their bodies: that part, pace Achilles, that the mother holds on to; the vulnerable flesh that, in Genesis, first touches down upon the dangerous earth; and the bottom of the "vivi piedi" that Dante places upon the almost-trace left by his ghostly guide.

But Christs cosmos-crossing stride, half imprinted on the Mount of Olives, has no exact correspondence, no ordinary foot balancing it in a remote, yet somehow tenderly close antipode. That is, unless we think in terms of oppositional time rather than oppositional space. We might consider Adam, stepping out of Eden, placing the initiating step that balances the eternity into which Christ ascends. This would be a different kind of counter-sole pressing intimately against the divine one: Adam steps--falls--out of Paradise, and Christ ascends--steps--back into it. (44) Together, the steps bookend the conditions for narrative and the need for record. They serve as the two poles effecting and giving shape to the poetic balance of an intermittent sacred history that makes the first fall a bearable one: death followed by life, left foot against right. It is in between these two footsteps that sacred narrative occurs, a narrative measured out in pas or poetic feet, in textual passages and sometimes physically upon the ground. From a medieval Christian perspective, it is between these two steps that all narrative occurs, as the feet of Adam and Christ mark the borders of eternity, "beating the bounds" of a temporal world. There will be further stories after the Ascension of Christ, but his imprint marks the edge of the material conditions that give rise to narrative: the limit of the world.

Mandeville occasionally conflates traveling and narrating in the Travels, seeming at times to suggest (or admit) that geography takes form only through writing itself. When, for instance, in the Egerton version, he drops one of his tantalizing mentions of the Great Khan, with whom he is so taken, he promises: "Of his grete state and magestee I think to speke afterwardes when I come jaerto" (23). (45) The "per" of "perto" spreads here, designating a far-off kingdom, but also a later chapter in a text that takes its time. Mandeville will get to an account of the Khan, as he once (maybe) got to the kingdom he admiringly remembers. The narrators promise and deferral acknowledge the propensity of narrative to be apprehended incrementally, just as portions of the world eventually are reached, written upon, made measurable and identifiable. Sometimes, however, these reached portions of the world appear already inscribed. Early in the book, for instance, Mandeville describes the mountains dividing Macedonia and Thrace. The air up there is uncannily still, he writes:

And abouen in the dust & in the powder of bo hilles bei [Philosophres] wroot lettres & figures with hire fyngres & at the zeres ende bei comen azen & founden the same lettres & figures the whiche bei hadde writen the zeer before withouten ony defaute. (10-11)

And above in the dust and powder of the hills they [philosophers] wrote letters and figures with their fingers and at the end of the year they came again and found the same letters and figures that they had written the year before, without any changes.

In some ways, the inscribed hills here are not so different from the regions of Jerusalem visibly permeated with sacred history. The dust faithfully retains marks as do the rocks, the letters written with fingers last like the footprints or hoof prints in the ground. Together, they mark a generous thoroughfare between the two realms of paradise (earthly and celestial) into and out of which man (Adam/Christ) walks.

But perhaps these dusty letters offer less in terms of narrative than do the prints or stains in Jerusalem, since Mandeville does not bother to share what it is they spell out. Instead of specific words, we get their general effect: the mountain writing proves that these same men who return to inspect the letters have been here before. We were here, the letters imply, extraordinarily offering the message of ordinary graffiti, the resonant message the shades in Dante's hell are unable to produce in any enduring way. The men and the letters in the passage from the Travels are mutually implicated in the attestation of one another's existence: the ground is charted, marked, and claimed by the men, and their existence and journeys recorded by the ground. This is not wholly unlike the general effect of Mandeville's Travels, in which a world is written into being, and "Mandeville" is created as an effect of that traversed world, produced as an identity through the textual Travels. (46) Inscribed world and inscribing body create, confirm, and reify the existence of one another. (47) This, too, then, is like the beating of the bounds: the finger-inscribed letters in the dust reconfirm the windless territory as part of the known and legible world, and the writers are reconfirmed in their own sense of place, by the memory and recognition of their writing, and by the grit beneath their nails. ("Every country child would remember the boundary brooks and trees where he was dunked and bumped on Rogation Day," writes Michael Camille, "which marked upon his own body the spatial limits of his world." (48)) The world is marked upon the body, as that body marks the world: at the humble borders of the parish, in a windless zone high above the earth, and on the heel-wounding edges of paradise.

I argue that the inscriptions in the Travels--footprints, milk stains, dusty letters--are hopeful, that they are even in the comic mode, sandwiched between fall and redemption, between Adam's morose departure and Christ's salvific Ascension. I use the term "comic mode" in two senses; first, as Carolyn Walker Bynum employs it as a way of valuing fragmented history, accepting or even reveling in the knowledge that stories might be incomplete, and our interpretations partial and provisional. (49) But I also want to think of the comic mode as recalling the sacred comedy whose inevitability, from a medieval Christian standpoint, threatens or promises to subsume fragmented narratives. (50) The words and prints that inscribe the ground in Mandeville's Travels might be understood in both senses, even though these senses at first seem contradictory. The inscriptions sometimes form episodes that can be linked together (the marks of Moses, Mary, Christ) toward a salvific end, and sometimes form fragments (the dusty letters) whose message or import is not entirely clear. The inclusion of holy signs and curious graffiti--worshipped prints and dusty letters--suggests that both overarching narrative and individual narrative components matter, that the import of "human narrative" is not overwhelmed by the silence and divine silencing of the beginning and end of a more sacred history, the unwritable realm into which Christ (lingeringly) ascends. (51) Even though these imprints all take place between a fall and an eventual redemption, between a stepping into and out of the world, the paths between those two points are intricate, multiple, extensive, and not always clear. Walkers and writers crisscross the earth in pursuit of various truths, encountering and producing various narratives; they are propelled by curiosity, uncertainty, and its pleasures, for "many men," writes Mandeville, "han grete likyng to here speke of straunge thinges of dyuerse contreyes" (13).

We might then think of passages that narrate an oppositional relationship between the body and the world as being in the tragic mode, for they do not suggest an inscription of intricacy, "straunge-ness," or delight. These are the narratives of lives lived in exile, commenced by that first footfall of Adam and drawn to a close only by following Christ, who steps beyond the limits of the world altogether. In Chaucer's "Knights Tale," Theseus's father, Egeus, describes this journey of life in the bleakest possible terms: "This world," he insists, "nys but a thurghfare ful of wo, / And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro" (I 2848-49). (On the return from Canterbury, Lydgate's Lygurgus will articulate a similar sentiment: "And our lif her, who taketh hed therto, / Is but an exile and a pilgrymage" [3.3418-19].) These kings condense the entire world, generously vast and variously inscribed by humans and gods in Mandeville's text, to a single thoroughfare, along which Isidore's poets presumably will trudge up and down, arsis and thesis, stamping out what can only be, in Egeus's eyes, a doleful and limited history, fully and bleakly apprehended. It is not but "a thurghfare ful of wo"; it is nothing else: no variegated paths, no designs in the dust.

When Theseus replaces his father as speaker at the end of the Knight's Tale, attempting to rearticulate this cosmic framework with greater consolation, he again turns to the image of endless walking:
   Considereth eek how that the harde stoon
   Under oure feet, on which we trede and goon,
     Yet wasteth it as it lyth by the weye.
                                           1 3021-23

The same surface appears in these very different speeches offered up by father and son: a thoroughfare of woe and the hard stone trammeled underneath upon which exiled humans must make their pilgrimage. The duke's description of the "the harde stoon / under oure feet" seems to suggest that pilgrims and roads wear away at one another; the human treads heavily upon the stone, and the hard stone becomes the thoroughfare of woe upon which that pilgrim is made to stumble onward. (32) Humans and hard stone surface converge in an oppositional relationship; rather than mutually confirming existence, they are bent on one another's destruction. Unless, of course, one makes a "virtue of necessity," Theseus's gentle mandate, and then perhaps this convergence yields a different kind of history, arsis and thesis, imprinted upon the rocks. (33) Although it is not a history the Knight permits the pagan Theseus to articulate fully, it is perhaps what Mandeville imagines encountering in the streets of Jerusalem or at the top of the Mount of Olives. Perhaps it is even the kind of story produced at parish borders on Rogationtide, when a community reaffirms the shape of its known world by walking along its edges. Here we have less a thoroughfare of woe than a circular route of brooks and trees. World and body reconfirm one another in any number of small ways understood to matter. It matters even though the ritual is followed on the liturgical calendar by Ascension Day, commemorating that moment when Christ pushes off a ledge of rock and leaves his singular footprint behind.

For pilgrims who worship that print and for those who encountered images of Christ with his feet dangling across the divide where the earth meets the celestial paradise, the idea of poetic feet has the potential to resonate with a devotional charge, a reminder of the many in ways in which word and flesh might converge, or struggle to. Feet and footsteps mark the limits of narrative possibility, they suggest incarnational desire, and they invite us to think further about how medieval writers, across poetry and prose, might have apprehended the creative resources of their physical environment, engaging with the marks of a past that sometimes seemed close enough to touch, even with the tender sole. I suggest that these various instances of worship, travel, and near-reanimation indicate how thinkers valued the poetic possibilities born of bodily, geographic, and formal energies and restrictions: the kind of daring and beautiful routes made by encountering, marking, and straining beyond the edges of the known world, beyond the beaten bounds, the representational frames, and even the most revered forms of poetic inheritance, toeing the borders with the humble flesh long ago made into a marker of poetry.

Rutgers University

I would like to thank everyone who read earlier drafts of this work and offered helpful advice.


(1) Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (U. of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 21-25.

(2) Maribel Dietz, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims: Ascetic Travel in the Mediterranean World, 300-800 (Pennsylvania State U. Press, 2005), 3-4; and Gerhart B. Ladner, "Homo Viator: Mediaeval Ideas on Alienation and Order," Speculum 42.2 (1967): 233-59.

(3) Umberto Eco, The Search of the Perfect Language, trans. James Fentress (Oxford U. Press, 1995), chap. 1 and 3; and Eric Jager, The Tempters Voice: Language and the Fall in Medieval Literature (Cornell U. Press, 1993).

(4) The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, ed. and trans. Stephen Barney et al. (Cambridge U. Press, 2006), 1.17.1. All English translations are from this edition. The Latin is from Etymologiarum sive Originum, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford U. Press, 1911 repr. 1989).

(5) Isidore, Etymologies, 1.17. 21.

(6) Classical verse used syllabic quantities, while medieval vernaculars tended to count syllables and/or stress. Helpful guides include: Paul Fussell, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (New York: Random House, 1965; rev. 1979), esp. 6, 10-11,21; Susanne Woods, Natural Emphasis: English Versification from Chaucer to Dryden (San Marino, CA: The Huntington Library, 1984), Introduction and chap. 2; Diane Warne Anderson, "Medieval Teaching Texts on Syllable Quantities and the Innovations from the School of Alberic of Monte Cassino," in Latin Grammar and Rhetoric: From Classical Theory to Medieval Practice, ed. Carol Dana Lanham (London: Continuum, 2002), 180-211; W. F. Patterson, Three Centuries of French Poetic Theory, 1328-1630(New York: Russell and Russell, 1935,1966), 14-17; Paula Blank, Shakespeare and the Mismeasure of Renaissance Man (Cornell U. Press, 2006), 52-58.

(7) Aldhelm, The Poetic Works, trans. Michael Lapidge and James L. Rosier, with an Appendix by Neil Wright (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1985), esp. 212-19. See further, Andy Orchard, The Poetic Art of Aldhelm (Cambridge U. Press, 1994), 74-79.

(8) Bede, Libri II de arte metrica et de schematibus et tropis: The Art of Poetry and Rhetoric, ed. and trans. Calvin B. Kendall (Saarbriicken: AQ-Verlag, 1991), 92-93.

(9) See Dag Norberg, An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Latin Versification, trans. Grant C. Roti and Jacqueline de la Chapelle Skubly (1958; Catholic U. Press of America, 2004); William M. Purcell, Ars Poetriae: Rhetorical and Grammatical Invention at the Margin of Literacy (U. of South Carolina Press, 1996); and James J. Murphy, Rhetoric in the Middle Ages; A History of Rhetorical Theory from Saint Augustine to the Renaissance (U. of California Press, 1974).

(10) Matthew of Vendome, The Art of Versification, trans. Aubrey E. Galyon (Iowa State U. Press, 1980), 27, and Opera, vol 3; Ars Versificatoria, ed. Franco Munari (Rome; Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1988), 1.1, 44.

(11) John of Garland, Parisiana Poetria, ed. and trans. Traugott Lawler (Yale U. Press, 1974), 6-7. All translations are Lawler's.

(12) Garland, Parisiana Poetria, 4-5.

(13) Garland, Parisiana Poetria, 108-9.

(14) Ovid in Six Volumes: 6, Tristia, Ex Ponto, ed. G. P. Goold, trans. Arthur Leslie Wheeler (Harvard U. Press, 1924; rev. 1988), Tristia 3.1.

(15) Carlo Ginzburg, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witch's Sabbath, trans. Raymond Rosenthal (U. of Chicago Press, 1991), 230-31, though all of pt. 3, chap. 2 "Bones and Skin" is of interest to this topic.

(16) Paul Strohm, Social Chaucer (Cambridge U. Press, 1989), 4. Peter Stallybrass follows this imagery into the early modern period in "Footnotes," in The Body in Parts: Fantasies of Corporeality in Early Modern Literature, ed. David Hillman and Carla Mazzio (New York: Routledge, 1997), 313-25.

(17) Martha Bayless, Sin and Filth in Medieval Culture: The Devil in the Latrine (New York: Routledge, 2012), chap. 3.

(18) All quotations are from The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987) and are cited in the main text.

(19) Robert Deshman, "Another Look at the Disappearing Christ: Corporeal and Spiritual Vision in Early Medieval Images," Art Bulletin 79 (1997): 518-46. See also Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology (Princeton U. Press, 1957), 66-74.

(20) Cynthia Hahn, "The Spectacle of the Charismatic Body: Patrons, Artists, and Body-Part Reliquaries," in Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, ed. Martina Bagnoli (Yale U. Press, 2010), 162-72, at 156-66 and 171; and Thomas Head, "Art and Artifice in Ottonian Trier," Gesta 36 (1997): 65-82. Hahn notes that the bodypart reliquaries do not have to hold the part of the body they are shaped to represent.

(21) Ann Eljenholm Nichols, "The Footprints of Christ as Anna Christi: The Evidence of Morgan B.54," in The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, with a Critical Edition of'O Vernicle,' ed. Lisa Cooper and Andrea Denny-Brown (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 113-41.

(22) James Villas, "The Petrarchan Topos Bel Piede: Generative Footsteps," Romance Notes 11 (1969): 167-73. On a Marian variation, see James V. Mirollo, "Where'er you walk": My Lady's Beautiful Foot and Generative Footsteps: The Literary Context of Parmigianino's Madonna del Bel Piede," in Reconsidering the Renaissance, ed. Mario A. Di Cesare (Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1992), 177-89.

(23) On Chaucer's metrical parody, see K. S. Whetter, Understanding Genre and Medieval Romance (Burlington: Ashgate, 2008), 83-84; Marianne Borch, "Writing Remembering Orality: Geoffrey Chaucer's Sir Thopas',' European Journal of English Studies 10 (2006): 131-48; and esp. Alan T. Gaylord, "Chaucer's Dainty 'Dogerel': The 'Elvyssh' Prosody of Sir ThopasJ Studies in the Age of Chaucer 1 (1979): 83-104.

(24) Inferno translations and Italian text are from Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy 1: Inferno, ed. and trans. Robin Kirkpatrick (New York: Penguin, 2006), hereafter cited in the main text.

(25) John Lydgate, Siege of Thebes, ed. Axel Erdmann (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1911), 1:323-24. Quotations from this edition are hereafter cited in the main text.

(26) John Freccero, "Infernal Irony: The Gates of Hell," MLN 99 (1984): 769-86, at 777-78, 783.

(27) Freccero reminds us to pay attention to even the smallest details of Dante's walking, including which foot comes first, in "Dantes Firm Foot and the Journey without a Guide," Harvard Theological Review 52 (1959): 251.

(28) Dante uses the Latin pedes to discuss feet and poetry in De vulgari eloquentia in relation to the rules of canzoni. Feet here refer to specific stanzaic lines rather than to metrical measurement, but Dante acknowledges his terminology differs from the standard. Dante, De vulgari eloquentia, ed. and trans. Steven Botterill (Cambridge U. Press, 1996), 2.11.12. See, further, Marianne Shapiro, De vulgari eloquentia: Dante's Book of Exile (U. of Nebraska Press, 1990).

(29) "Piante" is connected to the Latin planta, from which derives the Middle English "plante," an apparent synonym for "sole" or "soole." (See the MED; and "sole, n. 1." in the OED.)

(30) Kirkpatrick, Inferno, 399-401.

(31) Michael Robson, The Franciscans in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2006), 39-40.

(32) For a different version of the fable, see Edward Wheatley, Mastering Aesop: Medieval Education, Chaucer, and His Followers (U. Press of Florida, 2000), 197-98.

(33) For ideas about an "incarnational poetic," see Cristina Maria Cervone, Poetics of the Incarnation: Middle English Writing and the Leap of Love (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2012); Alexandre Leupin, Fiction and Incarnation: Rhetoric, Theology, and Literature in the Middle Ages, trans. David Laatsch (U. of Minnesota Press, 2003), 57-60; Charles S. Singleton, Dante's Commedia: Elements of Structure (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1954; repr. 1977), esp. 58-59; and Marcia Colish, The Mirror of Language: A Study in the Medieval Theory of Knowledge (Yale U. Press, 1968), esp. chap. 1 and 4.

(34) Purgatorio text and translation are from The Divine Comedy 2: Purgatorio, ed. and trans. Robin Kirkpatrick (New York: Penguin, 2007).

(35) Guy P. Raffa notes the affection of this moment in Divine Dialectic: Dante's Incarnational Poetry (U. ofToronto Press, 2000), 76.

(36) Gen. 3:15. Gary A. Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 16-18. The Virgin Mary then will crush the serpent with her heel: "Adam and Eve in Fourteenth-Century Paris: Overlooked Scenes of the Fall in the Nativity and the Resurrection Plays of MS 1131 from the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve. Paris," Studia Neophilologica 78 (2006): 177. Catherine E. Karkov draws attention to Eve's body transgressing an image frame that would keep her inside of Eden in "Margins and Marginalization: Representations of Eve in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11," in Signs on the Edge: Space, Text, and Margin in Medieval Manuscripts, ed. Sarah Larratt Keefer and Rolf H. Bremmer Jr. (Paris: Peeters, 2007), 57-84.

(37) On geography and writing, see Tomasch's Introduction in Text and Territory: Geographical Imagination in the European Middle Ages, ed. Sylvia Tomasch and Sealy Gilies (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 5.

(38) Isabel Cochelin, "When Monks Were the Book: The Bible and Monasticism (6th-11th Centuries)," in The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages: Production, Reception, and Performance in Western Christianity, ed. Susan Boynton and Diane J. Reilly (Columbia U. Press, 2011), 72-73.

(39) The Blickling Homilies, ed. and trans. Richard Morris (London: Trubner and Co., 1880), 126-27.

(40) Mandeville's Travels, trans. from the French of Jean d'Outremeuse, ed.from MS Cotton Titus c. xvi, ed. P. Hamelius (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1919), 64. Unless otherwise noted, Mandeville quotations and page numbers (hereafter cited in the main text) are from this edition. Translations are my own. In a footnote to the passage in his translation, Anthony Bale points out that medieval pilgrims also reported seeing two footprints. Sir John Mandeville: The Book of Marvels and Travels (Oxford U. Press, 2012), 146 n49.

(41) Anne Higgins, "Streets and Markets," in A New History of Early English Drama, ed. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan (Columbia U. Press, 1997), 82-83.

(42) A. C. Spearing, "The Journey to Jerusalem: Mandeville and Hilton," Essays in Medieval Studies 25 (2008), 1-2. Cf. Mary Campbell on Mandeville's particular kind of "realism" in The Witness and the Otherworld: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400-1600 (Cornell U. Press, 1991), chap. 4.

(43) The Egerton manuscript uses "pe pole Artyke" here. The Egerton Version of Mandeville's Travels, ed. M. C. Seymour (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 99.

(44) These are two different kinds of paradise: earthly ("terrestre") and celestial (Mandeville, 202).

(45) Seymour, Egerton Version, 23. The Cotton is clearer: "I schall speke more plenerly when I schall speke of the lond 8t of the contree of Ynde" (26).

(46) See Spearing, "Journey to Jerusalem," 2.

(47) Henri Lefebvre discusses the relationship between the body and space in "Spatial Architectonics," in The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholason-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 169-228. Patricia Badir employs Lefebvre to think about medieval space, including the beating of the bounds, in "Playing Space: History, the Body, and Records of Early English Drama," Exemplaria 9 (1997): 255-79.

(48) Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (Harvard U. Press, 1992), 16.

(49) Carolyn Walker Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 24-26 and 304-5n24.

(50) Bruce Holsinger and Rachel Fulton discuss Bynums phrase in History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person (Columbia U. Press, 2007), 279-92.

(51) On "the absolute beginning and ending" and the room for "human narrative," see Fradenburg, "Criticism, Anti-Semitism, and the Prioress's Tale," Exemplaria 1 (1989): 86-87.

(52) Jeffrey Jerome Cohen describes a relationship between humans and stone that can seem oppositional in "Stories of Stone," Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 1 (2010): 56-63. See also Dorigen's lament in the "Franklin's Tale": fragment 5, lines 876-78.

(53) Alastair Minnis, Chaucer and Pagan Antiquity (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1982), ch. 4.
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