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The poet-narrator's address to his lady as structural device in 'Partonopeu de Blois.'

Partonopeu de Blois, an anonymous romance composed in the early 1180s, features a poet-narrator(1) who recounts a tale in order to win the heart of his beloved.(2) Like Le Bel Inconnu, written by Renaut de Beaujeu about a decade later,(3) Partonopeu de Blois establishes similarities and oppositions between the stories unfolding on the intradiegetic level of the plot and the extradiegetic level of the frame narrative.(4) Whereas Le Bel Inconnu ends with the narrator's unheeded offer to reverse the conclusion of the tale if his lady so desires, in Partonopeu de Blois the beloved appears to accept a similar suggestion. The female's assent affords a pretext for the prolongation of the work by a later author. The first writer and the continuator(s) employ the extradiegetic fiction of a narrator who attempts to seduce his beloved in order to structure the original narrative and the continuation of the story as it is found in some versions. In this paper I shall explore the relationship between the lyric stance of the poet narrator and the act of extending the narrative. The basically lyric construct of a man's unrequited love for a woman produces a major force fuelling the process of poetic continuation. The lady's benign glance, inviting enough to maintain her lover's interest without leading to satisfaction on the level of desire, provides a potentially infinte extension of the act of narration.

Partonopeu de Blois was a work highly regarded in the Middle Ages. Although critics in our century have given Le Bel Inconnu greater attention than Partonopeu, the latter seems to have been better appreciated in its time.(5) Anthime Fourrier, commenting on the number and diversity of translations and adaptations of the text into foreign languages, ranked it third in popularity after the Tristan and Grail romances.(6) Besides the ten Old French manuscripts of Partonopeu de Blois that have come down to us,(7) writers in nine different languages composed adaptations of the work.(8) By contrast, Chantilly, Musee Condee, MS 472 contains the single Old French copy of Le Bel Inconnu. Recastings of the latter appear in only two languages: one English and one Italian version of the romance are known.(9) In addition, around 1210 Wirnt von Gravenberg reworked major themes of Le Bel Inconnu in his Middle High German romance, Wigalois.(10) Contemporary poets also expressed interest in Partonopeu. Both the troubadour Uc Brunenc, who flourished around the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the author of the early, fourteenth-centurn Ovide moralise mention it in their works. In his Vie seint Edmund le Rei, composed between 1190 and 1200, Denis Piramus cites the success of Partonopeu de Blois and the Lais of Marie de France in aristocratic circles.(11)

Partonopeu de Blois and Le Bel Inconnu represent an intermediate stage in the evolution of the first-person narrative between Chretien de Troyes's Lancelot and the Roman de la rose of Guillaume de Lorris. Whereas Chretien establishes implicit analogies between Lancelot's passion for Queen Guenevere and the poet narrator's clerkly devotion to Countess Marie de Champagne, the authors of Partonopeu de Blois and Le Bel Inconnu directly compare the progress of their extratextual love affairs with those of their protagonists. Guillaume de Lorris develops the procedure still further by conflating the first-person speaker and the narrated subject.(12) The poet-narrator and the protagonist are one and the same |person'; approximately five years separate the actual erotic experience from its recounting in the text. Significantly, the poet-narrator, who first tried to gain directly the affection of |her who is worthy of being called Rose', later attempts to win her through the act of telling the story of his prior amorous failure with her. In other words, his previous lack of success with his lady causes him to sublimate his desire into poetry, which he then uses in a renewed attempt to seduce her.

Although the authors of Le Bel Inconnu and Partonopeu de Blois both draw upon the autobiographical content of a typical lyric chancon d'amour in composing frames for the love story of their characters, the Partonopeu-poet does not construct the lyric frame as tightly as does Renaut de Beaujeu.(13) Whereas Renaut already mentions his lady in the romance's ten-line prologue, the Partonopeu poet narrator only specifically refers to his beloved in line 1885. In the prologue, Renaut's poet-narrator claims that his lady, who has already inspired him to write lyric poetry, now gives him the impetus to compose a romance based on an adventure story. Partonopeu's 134-line prologue, although making no allusion to the beloved as such, does contain many lyric themes, including the mention that the poet narrator is in love. The prologue begins with an invocation to the Lord; this gives way to an encomium on the beauty of the world in springtime, a typical lyric topos. The melodious song of the lark and the nightingale causes the narrator to reflect on his own experiences. He is torn between pleasure and pain: pleasure when he remembers his love, pain when he thinks of what he still lacks. Although we learn that the story related will not be his own, the poet-narrator's personal experience will help him understand and express more eloquently the emotions felt by his characters in the love situation. The poet-narrator's own romantic experience serves to validate his work, which has a clear didactic intent: he says he is writing it for the moral edification of his readers. He defends his choice of the vernacular over Latin: whereas his fellow-clerks contend that writing about ancient times in the vernacular is a project devoid of value, he counters that it is rather they who waste their time in idle pursuits like backgammon and chess. Those who play these games bring transitory pleasure to themselves and no such pleasure to future generations as the author does by writing his romance (87-94).

The later interventions in Partonopeu de Blois fall into three main categories: didactic, where the poet narrator criticizes the mores of his contemporaries; authorial, where he comments on the storytelling process itself; and lyric, where he compares his experience and feelings to those of his characters.(14) Although the number of interventions varies from one manuscript to the next, they constitute an essential component of the work.(15) Even MS P, the manuscript that suppresses the greatest number, retains enough to prove that this element was not an afterthought but belonged to the original text.(16) The most complete version of the continued romance contains twenty-four major interventions, ranging from three to sixty-four lines each, plus lengthy prologues and epilogues in both the romance and the continuation. The intervention, which occur at key moments in the narration, provide a metatext treating the narrator's relations not only with his haughty lady but also with his courtly audience, whom he alternately entertains and instructs.(17)

In the majority of asides he contrasts his lack of power to move his lady to his protagonist's success in seducing Melior. In the first extended intervention, he interrupts the narration of Partinopeu's joyous love-making with Melior to meditate on his sad situation (1871-86) with his beloved. The poet-narrator reflects that even though Partonopeu cannot see his lady (who has made herself invisible), he takes his pleasure with her. The poet-narrator, on the contrary, is unable to do anything with his beloved even though he sees her. In lines 3425-4o he states as a general rule that a beautiful woman was created to be courted and to yield her love in return. His lady, however, kills him with her refusals. In lines 4045-54 the poet-narrator changes his tactics: he uses the episode of Portonopeu's seduction of the King of France's niece as a negative exemplum: he himself would never deceive his lady. The poet-narrator continues in a similar vein in lines 4543-8, following the episode in which Partonopeu wrongs Melior by breaking the interdiction not to look at her.(18) Placing himself in the role of the betrayed melior, he asserts that even if his beloved had seriously wronged him, he would only thank her. In lines 6261-92 he reiterates that beauty and chastity do not go well together, and then passes to a direct attack on his lady's aloofness by calling her |chaste et peu cortoise' (6293), a speech, which anticipates the Rose-narrator's plea to ladies in the Narcissus episode not to discourage their lovers. A typical lyric persona, the poet-narrator is forced to adore his lady from afar. His elaborate praise of her s accompanied by complishments to the female sex in general (5501-34) and to Melior (10,105-24). He directs much of his criticism of contemporary mores towards clerical misogyny. In particular, he attacks clerks who fail to distinguish good women from bad (8397-8454).

The main object of the poet-narrator's lyric interventions is to try to prove his worthiness as his lady's suitor. His inability to win her over to his cause keeps the narrative going long after his protagonists, Partonopeu and Melior, have been united in matrimony. The continued attempt at seduction of the lady provides a pretext for extensions of the story-line. Unable to become her lover, the narrator nonetheless tries to sustain his beloved's interest in his tale in the hopes of eventually winning her heart. The listener/reader finds him or herself placed in the position of one who is being seduced by the narrator's words. The engagement of the reader in the narrator's story takes the place of any real contact between the narrator and his lady.

The first-person interventions in Partonopeu de Blois prepare a continuation of the narrative. In the final verses of the romance proper the poet-narrator says he could go on but is afraid to bore his lady. If, however, she so much as winked an eye, he could tell the later history of Anselot, Gaudin's love affair and the war against the invading sultan:

Et tant a son lige me tien

A son servise sens orguel,

Que s'ele me gignot de l'uel

Que je die l'ystoire avant,

Faire m'estovra son commant. (10,620-4)

When the poet-narrator of the continuation takes up the pen, he says he is responding to the expressed desire of the lady:

Mes giex, ma vie, mes tresors,

Cler vis et dous cuer et gent cors,

Voelt que plus die en sa merci,

Et en Dieu me met et en li.

Quant li plaist que je die plus,

Fere l'estuet quant a le mieus. (1-6)

Dialectal and stylistic differences between the original romance and the continuation led Leon P. Smith, the scholar who had originally begun the editon of Partonopeu de Blois completed by Gildea, to conclude that a later author composed the continuation.(19)

Of the seven fairly complete manuscripts of Partonopeu de Blois (there are also two fragments and one excerpt),(20) five contain at least part of the standard version of the continuation, which Fourrier thought of as comprising two sections, the second marked by a switch in metre from octosyllabic to decasyllabic couplets.(21) According to Fourrier,22 all the manuscripts are incomplete or have been reworked. As for the four whose transcription ends with a scribal explicit, one manuscript (V) contains no part of the continuation whatsoever. The text of Partonopeu de Blois in this manuscript is similar to that of Le Bel Inconnu, in which the poet narrator's plea for an encouraging look from his lady goes unheeded.

The authors of these two texts put the favourable glance, the indicator of hope in the chancon, to slightly different use. On the extradiegetic level, each poet-narrator awaits either a smile or a wink of the eve to continue his narrative. The two texts differ, however, on the intradiegetic level. Unlike Guinglain, Partonopeu is not torn between the love of two women at the end of the romance. (Partonopeu's dalliance with the King of France's niece does not constitute a major part of the narrative.) In typical romance fashion, he marries Melior and enjovs unalloyed happiness at her side in the epilogue to Le Bel Inconnu Renaut's poet-narrator weighs Guinglain's pleasure with Blonde Esmerde, the partner favoured by Arthur whom Guinglain has just married, against the potential happiness he could enjoy with the Pucelle aux Blanches Mains, his fairy mistress. Alice Colby-hall argues convincingly that in Le Bel Inconnu Renaut plays upon the literary expectations of his readers, opposing the secure happiness characteristic of romance to the present frustration but future possibility of fulfilment experienced by the lyric lover. The seemingly perfect ending of Le Bel Inconnu may have discouraged continuators: Renaut lets his reader imagine that Guinglain will not only possess his wife but fulfil his desires regarding the Pucelle.(23) Rather than proposing a second partner for Partonopeu, the poet-narrator suggests other narrative strands that could be developed: Anselot's story, Gaudin's love affair and the war against the invading sultan.

In the continuation found in other manuscripts (see n. 21 below), the anonymous continuator first relates Anselot's story, before turning to the accounts of Partonopeu's struggles against the sultan Margaris and of Gaudin's love for Urraque, Melior's sister. (In MS A, a late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century manuscript which includes an independent ending by another continuator, Gaudin falls in love with Persewis, Melior's lady-in-waiting, rather than with Urraque.) Besides developing the narrative threads left dangling at the end of the romance, the continuator invents a rival for Melior's affections - the sultan Margaris. As opposed to Le Bel Inconnu, which portrays one man and two women, Partonopeu de Blois features one woman with two men.(24)

The continuator maintains the pose of a lyric lover trying to win over his lady. The wink she apparently gave him served to encourage his literary as well as his amorous exploits and reinforced his status as love poet. He portrays himself as a lyric poet singing his song (|Je qui ceste chancon vos chant', 1463).25 The notion that the poet narrator's poetic talents can maintain his lady's interest is developed at length in an intervention near the middle of the continuation. The poet narrator switches from octosyllabic couplets to rhyming alexandrine stanzas of varying length in order to increase the value of his work in his lady's eves (1469). Before changing verse-form, he praises his beloved and bemoans his lack of success with her: he will, however, imitate Clytia, Ovid's Greek maiden who, when scorned by the sun god Phoebus,(26) enclosed her beloved in her heart and died happily. Her transformation into a flower which turns its face continually to the sun is a fitting metaphor for the persona of the Partonopeu poet-narrator, who can only express his love for his disdainful lady through the sublimated form of poetry.

No longer identifying his narrator-persona with Partonopeu, who gained Melior's hand at the end of the romance proper, the continuator allies him rather with the character Margaris, who vainly tries to seduce Melior away from Partonopeu. The sultan, burning with unrequited passion for a married woman, sends her lyric poetry in an attempt to win her over. A mock trouvere, he composes two lyric poems (reproduced in the text) to be sent to the empress. The first is a quatrain in octosyllabic couplets which fails to please him; the second is a 124-line salut d'amour written in decasyllabic rhyming couplets. The genre of the salut d'amour has much in common with the over-all lyric frame of the poem: it begins with a salutation to the lady, praises her, and repeatedly asks that the aspirant be accepted as the lady's lover. The verse-forms used by the sultan are curiously analogous to the two metrical schemes - the octosyliabic rhyming couplets and the decasyllabic verse employed by the poet narrator himself in the second half of the continuation. Unfortunately, neither the poet-narrator nor the sultan will ultimately succeed in winning his lady through poetry.

In addition to MS V, which we have already studied, the three other manuscripts (T, L and G) that possess a scribal explicit, which supposedly gives a clearly defined ending to a work, contain the potential for even greater elaboration. In only one case, that of MS T, does the continuator ally the potential for further narrative development with the extradiegetic fiction of the narrator's desire to win over his lady. The other two versions, although shorter than the latter, possess narrative lines capable of continuation by another author. For example, MS G comes to an abrupt end in the middle of the second part of the continuation; the reader would logically want to learn the outcome of the battle between Partonopeu and the sultan, Margaris.

Following line 1042 of the continuation found in MS L, the scribe attributes the authorship of Partonopeu de Blois to Walter Map:

L'istorie ici finerai.

Qar ge plus n'en trovai,

E s'uns autres vos dit avant,

Ne 1'en creez nc tant ne quant,

Qar Gauter Mape plus n'en dist.

Trestoz D[am]edo nos benist,

Qi l'istorie avons oie.

En Paradis tenjons la vie!

Explicit liber Partolopei de Bleis.

A Deo nos commandons et a ses leis,

Q'il nos sera d'infern garanz,

Si atendons le suen[s] comanz!

In a 1939 article in Romania, Henri Martin, after concluding that this attribution is false, gives two reasons why the copyist might have chosen the name of Walter Map: he was a popular authority figure of the time, and the scribe was following the example of the prose romances of the Round Table.(27) Walter Map was seen as a clerk who had mastered both Latin and the vernacular. His major work, the De Nugis Curialium, was in Latin.(28) Although critics no longer take seriously the attribution of the Queste del seint Graal to Map,29 readers of the Queste manuscripts bearing his name probably believed that he was indeed the author of the work. His name might have suggested itself to a scribe who took seriously the prologue of Partonopeu de Blois, in which the poet narrator says he consciously chooses to compose in the vernacular rather than in Latin. Although writing in Old French, the Partonopeu-poet does seem to be well versed in Latin, since his version of the translatio studii et imperii topic is largely drawn from the Latin tradition represented by the Liber Historiae Francorum (seventh or eighth century) rather than the British tradition represented by Geoffrey of Monmouth and by Wace's Brut.(30) Moreover, in both the Queste and this manuscript of Partonopeu de Blois, Walter Map is a continuator in a work which is part of a larger cycle. Another noteworthy point about MS L is that, even though it presents itself as being complete, it really is not: the continuator fails to develop the narrative line concerning the sultan's vengeance, and the third verse of the colophon implies that the author knows of the existence of longer versions of the story

In MS T, the sole manuscript to contain the full text of the continuation, the lyric frame is directly linked to the continuation process. Smith contends that there was an original form of the romance close to the present MS V and three redactions. This is how he envisages the relationship between the existing manuscripts and the three editions' of the story:(31)

1. V Bl Gl;

2. A, with a unique conclusion;

3. T (P G2 L B2).

According to Smith's schema, scribal redactors made further revisions of two of the three editions; we can surmise that they undertook these modifications in order to please audiences of differing tastes and expectations. An examination of the manuscript tradition of Partonopeu de Blois reveals a romance expandable in several directions with unique episodes, endings and emphases. MS T, for instance, contains the most complete version of the lyric interventions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, MS P presents seriously truncated sections on love-service. We have seen that certain scribal redactors do not develop the link between continuation and lyric motifs; they merely mention narrative lines capable of further elaboration

The final verses in MS T demonstrate that the author exploited the lyric frame of the poet vainly entreating his beloved, as a mechanism to keep his narrative going. Even though MS T bears a scribal explicit and thus includes a sense of a formal ending, the final verses emphasize the essential open-endedness of the romance:(32)

Partenopex maine grant joie;

Avec lui Melior la bloie:

Mainent bon tans et boine vie.

Ainssi voussisse user ma vie

A servir la bele plaisant

Oue je de fin cuer aime tant;

Et tant est bele a mon avis,

Rose de mai ne flor de lis

Ne si pueent a par tenir

Ne a sa biaute parvenir.

Ele s'apele Passe Rose;

Icele ai en mon cuer enclose

Et la bonte ne puis escrivre:

Faire en porroie un autre livre.

Ele est de si grant bonte plaine

Que de tous biens est la fontaine.

Si prions a Dieu bonement,

Celui qui ne faut ne ne ment,

Que s'amour puissons deservir,

Qu'en sa gloire puissons venir. Amen.

Ci fenist li rommans de Partenopeu. (3917-37)

In stating that Passe-Rose's goodness could form the basis of yet another work, the poet-narrator affirms once again that the concept of the inaccessible domna provides poets with an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

The name |Passe-Rose' may refer to a real historical figure as well as having important intertextual resonances. According to Fourrier, the poet's beloved would be Marguerite, the eldest of the two daughters of Thibaut de Blois. Around 1184 Marguerite married Hugues III d'Oisy, a composer of lyric poetry, and also of the Tournoiment des dames, which portravs Marguerite along with other noble women as fostering the refined pleasures of courtly society. Fourrier speculates that the Partonopeu-poet, probably a man of humble birth, was trying to turn Marguerite's head before her marriage. The name |Passe-rose' plays on both the motto of the counts of Blois, |Passe avant le meillor', and the name Marguerite. The poet pays his beloved a compliment by implying that the lowly daisy, the |marguerite', was in truth superior to the rose, the queen of flowers.(33) The poet's choice of the name of Melior may also be a play on the term |meillor' in the motto. The poet would be implying that Marguerite was more desirable than the heroine of his romance. As for the expression itself, Fourrier sees it as deriving ultimately from Chretien's description of Blanchefleur in the Conte du Graal: 'Por voir embler les cuers de gent/Fist Diex en li passemerveille' (1826-7). Fourrier's likening of Passe-Rose to Blanchefleur is, I think, well taken. The two main undeveloped plot-lines at the end of Chretien's unfinished Conte du Graal concern the Grail itself and Perceval's future relationship with Blanchefleur. Blanchefleur appears in all three continuations except the first, which is devoted to the adventures of Gauvain. Like Passe-Rose, Blanchefleur is a female figure who fuels the process of poetic continuation.

The intertextual echoes triggered by the name |Passe-Rose' go far beyond this single example. The network of allusions comprises not only Partonopeu de Blois and the Grail and its continuations but also Le Bel Inconnu, Jean Renart's Guillaume de Dole and the Roman de la rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. Composing the second continuation of the Conte du Graal around 1210, Wauchier de Denain framed the scene of Perceval's return to Blanchefleur in her kingdom of Biaurepaire with episodes imitated from Le Bel Inconnu. In the episode preceding the reunion of Blanchefleur and Perceval, Perceval meets the Bel Inconnu and his lady. The knight subsequently identifies himself as Gauvain's son. In the episode following the reunion at Biaurepaire, Perceval encounters another knight, named the Biau Mauvais, who is accompanied by his ugly damsel, named Rosete. When the apparently ill-matched couple arrives at Arthur's court, Keu makes fun of the knight for loving such a homely woman. Her ugliness was presumably the result of an enchantment, since she later becomes quite beautiful.

The episode following the reunion of Perceval and Blanchefleur in the second continuation has two antecedents in Le Bel Inconnu. Each presents variations on the theme of the Loathly Lady. In the first, the hero takes up the defence of Margarie in the sparrow-hawk competition against Giflet and his ugly lady, Rose Espanie. Giflet, whose decorations on his knightly garb could qualify him easily for the epithet of |Rose Knight', contends against all reason that Rose Espanie is the most beautiful woman in the world. In the second example, a fearsome dragon succeeds in kissing the hero on the mouth, an act that frees a beautiful young woman from an enchantment. At the moment the dragon's ruby-red lips touch the hero's, a voice announces that his name is Guinglain and proclaims his identity as the son of Gauvain and Blancemal the fairy.

In the Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de D61e composed between 1210 and 1228,(34) Jean Renart embellishes still further the play on rhetorical conventions (the famous |flowers of rhetoric') and the figure of the woman as the object of the poet lover's desires in the lyric and narrative traditions. Renaut skilfully embroiders his narrative with pieces of lyric song, celebrating the felicitous conjunction of these two traditions represented by the choice of the rose as central metonym and symbol in his text. Lienor, the |rose' of the romance's title, has to defend her good name against the allegations of a seneschal much more unscrupulous than the nasty Keu portrayed by Wauchier de Denain and Chretien de Troyes. Jean Renart's text may have provided the inspiration for the second and much more renowned Roman de la rose.(35) The rose, emblematic of love and poetry in the lyric and romance traditions, also came to represent' continued' romance.

Above all, the denomination |Passe-Rose' recalls the dedicatee and heroine of the most famous mediaeval continued romance, the Roman de la rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. The use of the name |Passe-Rose' in conjunction with the rose/enclose rhyme found in the fourteenth-century MS T of Partonopeu de Blois suggests that the author of the continuation (or the end of the continuation) was entering into a dialogue with the Rose, whose parallels between narrator and protagonist and heroine and dedicatee were prefigured by Partonopeu de Blois. While I would say it is almost certain the Partonopeu continuator knew the first part of the poem, which Guillaume de Lorris composed around 1230, it is less likely but still not impossible that he was familiar with Jean's continuation written some forty years later.(36) Even more than Jean Renart's Rose, Guillaume de Lorris's romance represents the amalgamation of the lyric and narrative traditions. The protagonist, Amant, is an archetypal lyric lover made to inhabit the universe of a mediaeval romance. Approximately five years after Amant first fails to gain the favours of his |Rose', he becomes the narrator of his own story, which he dedicates to his beloved in the hope of winning her heart eventually. The quest for the rose, metaphor and symbol borrowed by Guillaume de Lorris from courtly lyric and mediaeval romance, provides the ftamework for Jean de Meun's continuation. While expressing his great pride in continuing the work of his illustrious predecessor, Jean de Meun nonetheless completely transforms the tonality of the original text.(37) In the concluding episode the taking of the rose represents the simple satisfaction of erotic desire, a motif characteristic of the comic fabliau tradition rather than of courtly romance or lyric.

The parallels between Partonopeu de Blois and the Roman de la rose merit further examination. Like Partonopeu, the first part of the Roman takes the form of a chancon transposed to narrative. At the point at which Guillaume's narrative breaks off, the Lover is left lamenting his fate outside the walls of jealousy's castle. In a passage located several hundred lines before this point, the poet-narrator has told his lady he would like to bring his narrative to completion in order to honour her and in the hope of obtaining his |guerredon'. As in Partonopeu de Blois, the lyric invocation of the poet narrator's beloved is coupled with the allusion to a narrative line which will be left incomplete: the eventual taking of jealousy's castle.(38)

Unlike the Partonopeu-continuator or Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meun fails to utilize the Ivric construct of the poet narrator's extradiegetic love affair to structure his continuation. On the other hand, he does employ the incomplete narrative thread concerning the taking of jealousy's castle. On this meagre skeleton he erects an enormous encyclopaedic compendium. Despite the allusion to the sowing of the seed at the work's conclusion, the reader has an almost overwhelming sense of an ending, a finality lacking in Partonopeu de Blois. Regardless of whether or not the Partonopeu-continuator had the second part of the Roman de la rose in mind, in the face of Jean's achievement he makes a strong statement for the limitiess potential of unrealized desire in the dual realms of love and poetry.


I presented an early version of this paper at the meeting of the Modern Language Association in New Orleans in December 1988.

(1) By this term I mean the narrator assimilated to the implied author. (2) |Partonopeu de Blois': a French Romance of the Twelfth Century, ed. by Joseph Gildea, OSA, 2 vols.; Vol. II introd. by Leon P. Smith (Villanova, Pa, 1967). All references to Partonopeu de Blois will be to this edition. Anthime Fourrier, Le Courant realiste dans le roman courtois en France au moyen age (Paris, 1960), P. 384, gives the dates 1182-5 for the composition of Partonopeu. (3) Renaut de Beaujeu: |Le Bel Inconnu', ed. by G. Perrie Williams, CFMA, 38 (Paris, 10929). All that Williams says about the date of the romance is that it was written prior to Jean Renart's Guillaume de Do1e, which she places between 1210 and 12l4. According to Alice M. Colby-Hall, |Frustration and fulfillment: the double ending of the Bel Inconnu,' Yale French Studies, LXVII (1984), 120-34 (P. 120), Renaut probably composed the work sometime between the mid-1180s and 1190, but be may have written it as late as 1230. Alain Guerreau, |Renaud de Bage: Le Bel Inconnu, structure symbolique et signification sociale,' Romania, CIII (1982), 28-82 (p. 32), suggests the date of 1200 or a little earlier. Most critics believe that Partonopeu de Blois predates Le Bel Inconnu by about a decade. The authors of the Pricis de litterature francaise du moyen age, ed. by Daniel Poirion (Paris, 1983), p. 389, date Partonopeu around 1181 and Le Bel Inconnu around 1191. (4) I borrow this critical terminology from Gerard Genette, Figures III (Paris, 1972), pp. 238 43. He uses the term |intradiegetic' to refer to something that takes place within the main story-line, |extradiegetic' to refer to something that stands outside the main story-line. (5) See Matilda Bruckner's comparison of the success of Partonopeu de Blois to that of Chretien's romances in ch. ix, |Intertextuality', in The Legacy of Chretien de Troyes, ed. by Norris J. Lacy, Douglas Kelly and Keith Busby, 2 vols. (Amsterdam, 1987), I, 223-65 (p. 227). Bruckner provides further analysis of Partonopeu de Blois in her article |Repetition and variation in twelfth-century French romance', in The Expansion and Transformations of Courtly Literature, ed. by Nathaniel B. Smith and Joseph T. Snow (Athens, Ga, 1990), pp. 101-4, and in her book Narrative Invention in Twelfth-Century French Romance: the Convention of Hospitality (1160-1200) (Lexington, Ky, 1980), pp. 57-8, 65, 90-1, 97-8, 153, 156-8. (6) Fourrier, Le Couranl realiste p. 315. (7) For a description of the manuscripts, see Partonopeu de Blois, ed. Gildea, 11, part 2. 1 give a svnopsis of the contents of each manuscript below (see nn. 15 and 21 below). (8) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 316. (9) See Le Bel Inconnu, ed. Williams, p. x, for references to these versions. (10) William H. Schofield, Studies on the |Libeaus Desconus' (Boston, Mass., 1895). Schofield analyses all the versions in detail. (11) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, pp. 441 (see n. 390 for the dates of composition of the Vie seint Edmund le Rei) and 446. This and other useful information on Partonopeu can also be drawn from the Grundriss der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters, IV:1, pp. 274-6; IV:2, pp. 172-3. (12) See Roberta Krueger, |The author's voice: narrators, audiences, and the problem of interpretation', in The Legacy of Chretien de, Troyes, ed. Lacy, Kelly & Busby, 1, 115-40 (pp. 126, 120). (13 Krueger, ibid., p. 126, states that |the extradiegetic fiction of the poet lover and his lady is fragmentary', and notes that the narrator does not consistently maintain a lyric stance throughout the poem. (14) Ibid., p. 127. (15) I shall use the sigla adopted by Smith and Gildea to refer to major manuscripts of the work: A = Paris, Bibliotheque del'Arsenal, MS 2986 (late twelfth/early thirteenth century); B = Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS 113 (thirteenth century); G = Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS f. fr. 19152 (thirteenth century); L = Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS nouv. acq. fr. 7516; P = Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS f. ft. 368 (fourteenth century); T = Tours, Bibliotheque municipale, MS 939 (fourteenth century); V = Rome, Vatican Library, MS Pal. lat., MS 1971 (thirteenth century). (16) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 428 n. 359 (17) Krueger, |The author's voice', p. 127 (18) Partonopeu de Blois presents a version of the Cupid and Psyche myth in which the gender roles are reversed. After raising the question whether the Parionopeu author was acquainted with the legend, Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, pp. 385-6, was only able to conclude that it was generally known in the Middle Ages through secondary sources if not directly through Apuleius. See T. H. Brown, |The relationship between Partenopeus de Blois and the Cupid and Psyche tradition', Brigham Young University Studies, V (1964), 193-202. (19) In producing his edition Gildea made use of Smith's unpublished dissertation and the abstract of that dissertation. Smith's dissertation contains the prolegomena for an edition of Partonopeu which he was unable to complete before his death. (20) Partonopeu de Blois, ed. Gildea, 11, 1, 12. (21) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 316. The two fairly complete manuscripts without the continuation are the following: MS A, which after line 10,420 of Gildea's edition contains an independent ending which does not even mention the possibility of continuation; MS V, which ends on line 10,656 and adds a two-line explicit. Two manuscripts include part of the first episode of the continuation: MS B, which closes with line 572 of the continuation; MS L, which ends on line 1042 of the continuation, followed by a colophon attributing the work to Walter Map. Two manuscripts terminate in the second part of the continuation: MS P breaks off at line 2063; MS G adds an explicit after line 2273. Only MS T has the full text of the continuation. (22) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 316. (23) Colby-Hall, |Frustration and fulfillment', pp. 132-4. (24) We can wonder whether the Partonopeu-continuator was playing off Le Bel Inconnu. (25) MS P, the manuscript that suppresses the greatest number of Ivric interventions, has ceste geste in place of ceste chancon. (26) Metamorphoses, IV. 204-70. (27) Henri Martin, |L'explicit de Partonopeu de Blois dans le ms. Bibl. Nat. nouv. acq. fr. 7516', Romania, LXV (1939), 226-33 (P. 233). I have used Martin's rendering of the verses of the colophon rather than reproducing the unedited note to line 1042 of the continuation as it

appears in Gildea's edition. (28) Map does appear to have been a popular authority figure, as Martin points out, even though he does not seem to have finished his major work, and it only survives in one manuscript. (29) La Queste de Saint Graal, ed. by Albert Pauphilet (Paris, 1972), P. iii. (30) Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 392-3. (31) Partonopeu de Blois, ed. Gildea, II, 12. Gildea adopted Smith's final decision to edit the romance proper on the basis of MS B he had first chosen MS V - and the continuation on the basis of MS T. (32) The Dutch adaptation, which dates from the end of the thirteenth century, supplies an interesting alternative version of the conclusion of the story. After Melior gives the sultan some encouragement, he falls in love with Melior's sister Urraque, whom he mistakes for Melior. The adaptor narrator adds that if he found morc of the poem, he would versify it in honour of his lady in the hope that she would reward him for his effort. See Fourrier, Le Courant realiste, p. 383 n. 141. (33) Ibid., pp. 439-40. (34) Le Roman de la rose, ed. Felix Lecoy, 3 vols., CFMA (Paris, I976 82). (35) As Michel Zink, Roman rose et rose rouge: Le |Roman de la Rose' ou |de Guillaume de Dole' de Jean Renart (Paris, 1979), P. 11, points out, the work could have been composed as early as 1210 (the hvpothesis of Rita Lejeune) or as late as 1228 (the hypothesis of Felix Lecoy). Although Zink refers to the two Roman de la rose poems as |presque jumeaux' (P. 24) and explores the implications of the possible influence of one work on the other (pp. 74 93), he favours the theory that Jean Renart knew Guillaume de Lorris (p. 93). Whereas Zink leaves unresolved the question of which romance was composed first, most critics believe that Renart's work preceded Guillaume's. I concur with this opinion, especially since the only occurrence of Rcnart's romance is in Rome, Vatican Library, MS reg. 1725, a manuscript codex that contains several other romances, including two by Chretien de Troyes (and at one time possibly a third: see Alexandre Micha, La Tradition manuscrite des romans de Chretien de Troyes (1939; repr. Geneva, 1966), P. 41) and Miraugis de Portlesque. These are all examples of an earlier romance tradition, as opposed to the more clerical and |scientific' texts with which compilers tended to anthologize the Rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. Even in the one manuscript in which Guillaume's romance appears without Jean's continuation (Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS f. fr. 12786), the work appears with later allegorized romances and texts belonging to the |scientific' tradition of the bestiaries and lapidaries rather than with the earlier forms of mediaeval romance. For a description and short study of MS ft. 12786, see Sylvia Huot, From Song to Book: the Poetics of Writing in Old French Lyric and Lyrical Narrative Poetry (Ithaca, NY; London, 1987), pp. 16-19. (36) The existence of MS f. fr. 12786, in which a short anonymous continuation follows Guillaume's section, indicates that the first part of the Rose circulated singly before a compiler added Jean's continuation to it. (37)Karl D. Uitti, |From clerc to poete: the relevance of the Romance of the Rose to Machaut's world', in Machaut's World: Science and Art in the Fourteenth Century, ed. by Madeleine Pelner Cosman and Bruce Chandler, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 314 (New York, 1978), pp. 209-16. (38) Le Roman de la rose, ed. Lecoy, lines 3481-92.
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Author:Walters, Lori
Publication:Medium Aevum
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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