A Companion to Wace

August 2002
1 black and white illustrations
314 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
BIC DSBB, 1D, 2AB, 3H, 4P
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004150

A Companion to Wace

F. H. M. Le Saux

Guide to the works of the twelfth-century chronicler Wace, setting him in his historical and cultural context.
The twelfth-century writer Wace is best known for his two influential works on the history of England (the Roman de Brut) and on the history of the Normans (the Roman de Rou), but despite this he has, until recently, been neglected. This book aims to provide a comprehensive overview of all his surviving works, including his hagiographical pieces, La Vie de sainte Marguerite, la Vie de saint Nicolas and La Conception Nostre Dame. Beginning with an examination of the historical and textual background necessary to an informed understanding of the poet, it moves on to discuss the manuscript tradition of each of Wace's poems, together with the sources that underlie each text, highlighting the additions, omissions and modifications made by the poet in adapting his material for new, non-Latinate audience. Particular attention is given to Wace's swan-song, the Roman de Rou, where his skill in combining history and romance is most clearly revealed.

Dr F. H. M. Le Saux teaches in the Department of French at the University of Reading.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Wace: his life and times
La Vie de sainte Marguerite
La Conception Nostre Dame
La Vie de saint Nicolas
Manuscripts, sources and adaptation principles
Britain, Rome and the House of Constantine
King Arthur and the passage of dominion
The ancestors of William the Conqueror
William II of Normandy
The aftermath of Hastings


This meticulous, judicious, thorough, and clearly written book will be the natural starting point for anyone embarking on study of any of Wace's works, but it will also be very helpful to scholars of Anglo-Norman culture, translation and vernacularization. ARTHURIANA
Provides a definitive reading of the Brut while illuminating Wace's other literary contributions. [...] An indispensable examination of Wace's surviving texts. [Future] studies will need to start with A Companion to Wace. SPECULUM
Thorough and well-organized. Like a good companion, it travels alongside the reader though the poet's corpus, leading to an enhanced understanding of Wace's methodology and a deeper appreciation of his skill. FRENCH REVIEW
An indispensable and friendly guide. ENGLISH
[This] admirable volume is everything its title implies: a handbook, a summa, and a guidebook. [...] As a readable and informative statement of the present position of Wace studies it would be hard to beat. MEDIUM AEVUM, 2006
Offers a careful and comprehensive treatment. This appealing book will be useful to those interested not only in Wace but also in medieval literature and culture in general. Recommended. CHOICE

Author Bio

Françoise H. M. Le Saux is Senior Lecturer of French Studies at The University of Reading, Reading, UK.