We know very well that literary histories are political instruments that respond to ideologies that may have little or nothing to do with those that informed the authors, works, and aesthetics they pretend to represent. The resulting narratives distort the facts. An excellent example is the argument over the origins of the novel and its implications for the study of the so-called chivalric novel. If it is the year , and Amadis is still over two hundred years in the future, this approach tells us nothing about the literary culture of , a little about that of , and a whole lot about If Amadis is the yardstick, what do we do with Flores y Blancaflor ca.
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I do not say this because I have a personal investment in the recognition of all non-chivalric prose fiction adventure novels, but because I believe we are doing ourselves a disservice by letting these categories determine our approach to the sources. Antarah and Abla depicted on a 19th-century Egyptian tattooing pattern Source: Wikipedia.
Historians can then say that Tirant lo Blanch , for example, is essentially Arthurian with some influence of the Byzantine novel.
Representing Others in Medieval Iberian Literature
But what if it that is not how it works? Source: Wikimedia. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, different strands of literary narrative practice came together to produce a corpus of prose fiction adventure novels that were in large part based on epic traditions as they had been received by current historiography.
Chroniclers had been making ample use of cantares de gesta from the Peninsula and beyond in the Christian kingdoms of Iberia and elsewhere. These prosifications of what could only have been considered histories spurred further novelizations of local epic traditions in which the fictional world represented was that of the court where the historiographers worked. These narratives, shaped and transmitted in more popular contexts, were then further novelized by courtly writers whose goal was to shift the symbolic center of the narrative from battlefield to court.
In this new prose fiction, which dealt at length on the amorous and political intrigues of its protagonists and less on exhaustive descriptions of massive battles waged between nations, the poetic forms of courtly poets and the prosaic practice of court historiographers merged. In the case of Arabic and to a lesser extent in French and in Spanish , the new narrative genres featured poetry interspersed directly within the narrative compositions.
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But largely it was the sensibilities, the affectations, and to a certain extent the language of love that authors novelized in the new fictions, happily chronicling the exploits of protagonists need not be presented as historical. The language of love Bayad wa-Riyad, late 13th c. Granada Source: Wikipedia. If we widen the lens beyond the transpyrennean route that brought Arthurian material to the Iberian Peninsula, and reframe the definition of the textual practice in question, a different picture begins to emerge.
In this one, writers around the Mediterranean move from chronicle and poetry to courtly prose fiction narratives that combine elements of both while giving expression to courtly values that span correct conduct, military skill but not necessarily large scale military conflict. If the chronicle gives narrative form to the events that transpire during the reign of a given monarch or a given royal house, the romance gives narrative form to the social and political ideals of the political community that supports the royal power.
This is true whether the backdrop is Rome, England, France, or elsewhere. This functional rather than genetic description of the romance authorizes us to look beyond the usual suspects in putting together a picture of how Iberian romances however we define them fit into the wider frame of literary practice in the medieval mediterranean.
If we just stick to prose fiction written about knights and their adventures, we have an interesting group of narratives that emerge in the thirteenth century in the Mediterranean.
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These narratives all share key features with French and Spanish romances dealing with what I will call the funky three: Rome, Britain, and France. Taking away the mandatory Arthurian point of reference, these heroes and the tales that describe their adventures all perform similar cultural work: they adapt epic traditions, sometimes quite loosely, to the task of representing courtly ideals in the military, political, and romantic spheres. Learn More - opens in a new window or tab Any international shipping is paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc.
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The International Medieval Congress at Leeds, focusing on medieval materialities, featured two keynote presentations, and thirteen panel sessions devoted to topics in Jewish studies plus at least seven additional panels with individual papers on Jewish topics, making the IMC an ideal venue for scholars working on any topic relating to medieval Jewish history, literature, art, or archaeology throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, to come, present their work and exchange ideas.
Not all proposals must address this topic in order to be considered, however, it seems an especially rich one for scholars working on Jewish topics. Jews, of course had their own borders.
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