The Forest of Medieval Romance

June 1993
249 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859913812
Format: Hardback

The Forest of Medieval Romance

Avernus, Broceliande, Arden

Corinne J. Saunders

Traces the development of the forest as a central literary motif in medieval romance.
Corinne J. Saunders's exploration of the topos of the forest, a familiar and ubiquitous motif in the literature of the middle ages, is a broad study embracing a range of medieval and Elizabethan exts from the twelft to the sixteenth centuries: the roman d'antiquite, Breton lay and courtly romance, the hagiographical tradition of the Vita Merlini and the Queste del Saint Graal, Spenser and Shakespeare. Saunders identifies the forest as a primary romance landscape, as a place of adventure, love, and spiritual vision... offers a pleasurable overview of the narrative function of the forest as a literary landscape. Based on a close comparative [and theoretically non-partisan] reading of a broad range of literary texts drawn from the Europeqan canon, Saunders's study explores the continuity and transformation of an important motif in the corpus of medieval literature. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEWDr CORINNE SAUNDERSteaches in the Department of English at the University of Durham. [BLURBEXTRACTED FROM TLS REVIEW] ...An immense tract, not only of medieval literature but of human experience [is] engagingly introduced and presented here...Corinne Saunders considers first forests in reality (a reality which keeps breaking through in romance...). She looks also at the classical and biblical models including Virgil, Statius and Nebuchadnezzar...only then does she turn to the non-real and non-Classical, i.e. the medieval and romantic. Here she follows a clear chronological plan from twelfth to fifteenth centuries [also covering] the allegorized landscape of Spenser and the lovers' woods of Arden or Athens in Shakespeare. Her text-by-text layout does justice to the variety of possibilities taken up by different authors; the forest as a place where men run mad and turn into animals, a place of voluntary suffering, a focus of significance in the Grail-quests, a lovers' bower; above all and centrally, the place where the knight is tested and defined, even (as with Perceval) created.


Valuable for its discussions of medieval English and French romances and lays, and especially for its survey of their varieties of wooded landscape - idyllic and exilic, amorous and adventurous. MEDIUM AEVUMCorinne Saunders tackles [forests] with practicality and a clear scheme... she follows a clear chronological plan from 12th to 15th centuries. Her text-by-text layout does justice to the variety of possibilities taken up by different authors. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT [Tom Shippey 07/01/94]Elegant volume... will be essential to future research in the field. STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCERA useful contribution to our understanding of romance narratives. LEEDS STUDIES IN ENGLISH