Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

Partonopeus de Blois: Romance in the Making

Penny Eley





First book-length treatment of a fascinating medieval French romance, underlining its influence in the genre.
Partonopeus de Blois is one of the most important works of twelfth-century French fiction; it shaped the development of romance as a genre, gave rise to adaptations in several other medieval languages and even an opera (Massanet's Esclarmonde). However, partly because of its complicated transmission history, and partly due to the fact that it has been overshadowed by the works of Chrétien de Troyes, it has been unjustly neglected. This first full-length study of the romance brings together literary, historical and manuscript studies to explore its making as it evolved through seven medieval "editions", the earliest of which probably predated most of Chrétien's romances. The book's thematic analyses show how the Partonopeus poet applied established techniques of rewriting to a wide range of classical, vernacular and Celtic sources, combining this literary fusion with political subtexts to create a new and influential model of romance composition. Detailed studies of the Continuation reveal more ambitious experimentation by the original author, as well as the activities of a series of "editors" who continued to modify the text for over a century. A final discussion of patronage proposes a new reading of the poem's distinct narratorial interventions on women and love, and suggests a link between Partonopeus and a disturbing episode in the history of Blois.

Penny Eley is Professor of Medieval French at the University of Sheffield.


September 2011
270 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843842743
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT004150, LIT011000, LIT014000
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Table of Contents

Patterns of Youth and Age
Power, Birth and Values: The fils à vilain Theme
Walter Map and Other Animals
Experiments in Fiction: Anselot's Story
When is an Ending not an Ending? Questions of Closure
Poets and a Patron: The Making of Partonopeus de Blois
Appendix 1: Notes on Editions and Manuscripts
Appendix 2: Synopsis


(Gives) Partonopeus de Blois the detailed treatment it richly deserves. MEDIUM AEVUM

Eley's book is learned, wide-ranging, and lucid. It should certainly inspire greater scholarly attention to Partonopeus, its versions, and adaptations. SPECULUM

This book constitutes a sine qua non for Partonopeus scholarship. It is also a very important study for anyone considering the history and creation process of medieval romance, in France and elsewhere. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

(A) meticulous study (...) demonstrates how much the study of this romance can contribute to our knowledge of romance composition in general. FRENCH STUDIES

Eley (...) is finally giving Partonopeus de Blois the detailed treatment it richly deserves. (...) her analysis is warm and thought-provoking. (...) this book will initiate critical dialogue about Partonopeus de Blois: an exciting prospect indeed. MEDIUM AEVUM

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