Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England

July 2016
10 black and white, 2 line illustrations
610 pages
24.8x17.7 cm
Library eBook

Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England

Texts and Translations, c.1120-c.1450

Edited by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Thelma Fenster, Delbert W. Russell

Excerpts from texts (with translation) from the French of medieval England offer a guide to medieval literary theory.
From the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, French was one of England's main languages of literature, record, diplomacy and commerce and also its only supra-national vernacular. As is now recognised, the large corpus of England's French texts and records is indispensable to understanding England's literary and cultural history, the multilingualism of early England, and European medieval French-language culture in general.
This volume presents a full, representative collection of texts and facing translations from England's medieval French. Through its selection of prologues and other excerpts from works composed or circulating in England, the volume presents a body of vernacular literary theory, in which some fifty-five highly various texts, from a range of genres, discuss their own origins, circumstances, strategies, source materials, purposes and audiences. Each entry, newly edited from a single manuscript, is accompanied by a headnote, annotation, and narrative bibliography, while a general introduction and section introductions provide further context and information. Also included are essays on French in England and on the prosody and prose of insular French; Middle English versions of some of the edited French texts; and a glossary of literary terms.
By giving access to a literate culture hitherto available primarily only to Anglo-Norman specialists, this book opens up new possibilities for taking English francophony into account in research and teaching.

Jocelyn Wogan-Browne is Thomas F.X. and Theresa Mullarkey Chair in Literature, Fordham University, New York, and formerly Professor of Medieval Literature, University of York; Thelma Fenster is Professor Emerita of French and Medieval Studies, Fordham University; Delbert Russell is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of French, University of Waterloo.

Table of Contents

General Introduction
Establishment of texts and translations, and conventions used
Part I Faus Franceis and Dreit Engleis: on Language
De Britain ki ore est apelé Engletere / About Britain which is now called England
A Nun of Barking Abbey, Le romanz de saint Edward, rei et confessur / The Vernacular Life of St Edward, King and Confessor, 1163-70, and its prose remaniement
Wace, Le Roman de Rou / The Romance of Rollo and the Dukes of Normandy
Hue de Rotelande, Ipomedon / The Romance of Ipomadon
Robert Grosseteste, Le Chasteau d'amour / The Castle of Love
Waldef / The Romance of Waldef
Walter of Bibbesworth, Tretiz de Langage / How to Speak French
Manières de langage: Spoken French for Business
'Quant vus frez a seignours...': Dictaminal Training attributed to Thomas Sampson
'Pur ceo que j'estoie requis...' : Treatise on conveyancing
John Barton, Donait françois / The French Donatus
Andrew Horn, Qui veut bone electioun faire and La feste royale du Pui, from Liber custumarum / The Book of the Customs of London
John Gower, Mirour de l'omme / The Mirror of Humanity
Part II Si sa dame ne li aidast: authorship and the patron
Benedeit, Le Voyage de saint Brendan / The Voyage of St Brendan
Gaimar, L'Estoire des Engleis / The History of the English
Adgar/William, Le Gracial / The Book of Grace
Guernes de Pont-Ste-Maxence, La Vie de Saint Thomas / The Life of St Thomas Becket
Simon of Walsingham, La Vie de sainte Fey virgine et martire / The Life of St Faith, virgin and martyr
Matthew Paris, La Vie de saint Edmund, arcevesque de Cantorbire / The Life of St Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury
Robert of Greatham, Miroir ou Evangile des Domnees / Mirror or The Sunday Gospels
Herman de Valenciennes, Li Romanz de Dieu et de sa mere / The Romance of God and his Mother
Sir Thomas Gray of Heaton, Scalacronica / The Ladder Chronicle
Part III Primes dirrum la dreyte fey: the conduct of reading, hearing and seeing
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie, Le Bestiaire divin / The Holy Bestiary
La Destructioun de Rome / The Destruction of Rome
Pierre d'Abernon de Fetcham, Lumere as lais / Light for Laypeople
Apocalypse du manuscrit Lambeth: La Pénitence illustrée / The Lambeth Apocalypse: Penitence Diagram
Les Enfaunces de Jesu Crist / The Childhood of Jesus Christ
'Par ceste figure l'en poet savoer...' / 'Using this diagram, one can find out...'
John of Hoveden, Rossignos / The Nightingale
St Edmund of Canterbury [ascribed], Mirour de seinte eglyse / Mirror of Holy Church
Sermons on Joshua
Angier of St Frideswide, Dialogues de saint Gregoire / Dialogues of St Gregory the Great
William Waddington [ascribed], Le Manuel des pechiez / The Manual of Sins
Part IV Ki veult oïr: forming audiences and creating textual communities
Wace, La Vie de seint Nicolas / The Life of St Nicholas
La Vie de seint Clement / The Life of St Clement the Pope
Commentary on the Chant des chanz / Commentary on the Song of Songs
Denis Piramus, La Vie Saint Edmund le Rey / The Life of St Edmund the King
Thomas of Kent, Le Roman de toute chevalerie /Romance of the Best Chivalry (Alexander the Great)
La Seinte Resurreccion / The Holy Resurrection
Chardri, La Vie de seint Josaphaz / The Life of St Josaphat
Fouke le Fitz Waryn / The Romance of Fouke le Fitz Waryn
'Sicom Aristotele nous dit' / Treatise on Menstruation
'Quant Deus out la femme fete' / Ornatus mulierum
Jofroi de Waterford and Servais Copale, Secré de Secrez / The Secret of Secrets
Le Miracle de Sardenai / The Miracle at Sardenaia
Jean de Mandeville [?], Le Livre des merveilles du monde / The Book of the Wonders of the World
'Coment la Mesun de Crabhus...comencerunt' / 'How they founded the nunnery of Crabhouse'
Part V Si come en latyn trovay escrit: the lineage of the text
Everart, Distichs of Cato
Simund de Freine, Roman de Philosophie / The Romance of Philosophy
Sanson de Nantuil, Les Proverbes de Salemon / Commentary on Solomon's Proverbs
Rauf de Linham, Kalender/Calender
[Robert de Boron, Walter Map, ascribed], L'Estoire del saint Graal / The History of the Holy Grail
Walter de la Hove [?], Chronique / The Mohun Chronicle
Poème sur l'ancien testament /Poem on the Old Testament
Le Débat des hérauts d'armes de France et d'Angleterre / The Debate between the Heralds of France and England
Part VI Essays and resources
England and French
Poetry and Prose in the French of England
Middle English Versions of French Entries
Lists of Alternative Arrangements of the Entries
Glossary of literary terms


Demonstrates the wealth and vibrancy of the French of England [and] situates the French of medieval England as a vernacular that can no longer be dismissed or simply mentioned in passing if one wishes to understand the complex cultural landscape of medieval England.[I]ts impact will be long lasting in the field of medieval studies in England. SCRIPTORIUM

A landmark achievement in the on-going reassessment of the place of French in medieval English culture...For researchers interested in understanding medieval English literary culture in its multilingual totality, Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England will be an indispensable resource. ANGLIA

A notable, even monumental, achievement.The editors should be congratulated on having produced an enormously valuable work of scholarship. MEDIUM AEVUM

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