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CATHERINE HILTON, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Compared to the romances of Chretien de Troyes, Partonopeu de Blois has been little studied up to the present. Early studies, hampered by an inadequate edition, were limited largely to an examination of sources and/or comparative traditions; the romance was often mentioned in passing in works encompassing the entire genre or all of Old French medieval literature, but was rarely studied in depth. When the romance became accessible through Gildea's edition (1967), it was included in such studies as Hanning's examination of the concept of the individual and his relation to society, Bruckner's analysis of the functioning of the convention of hospitality, and Ferrante's study of the role of women in medieval literature. Such studies have done much to expand our understanding of Partonopeu. Because of the scope of these studies--wide-ranging examinations of a theme, concept, or convention-- the discussion of Partonopeu has been a means rather than an end, and critical insights on the poem are fragmented. The present thesis attempts to study in depth some aspects of the romance in the context of an examination of that work alone, while profiting from the perceptions of scholars who have adduced the poem as evidence for their various conclusions. Much of this study is devoted to an examination of the structure of Partonopeu and the ways in which that structure contributes to the elaboration of meaning in poem. The essentially bipartite construction, while not sacrificing nuances of composition, underlines the theme of growth and personal fulfilment. This bipartition is intensified by the use in the first part of the poem of material and a tone that would not be inappropriate in a lai, devices that are droppd in the second part (Chapter II); and by a dramatic reversal of male and female roles and influence (Chapter IV). Another aspect of this study is essentially of intertextual and extratextual interest. An attempt is made to situate the romance in the context of a small corpus of roughly contemporaneous romances (Chapter V). The study of the role of the narrator, a role that constitutes the greatest innovation of the poem, is in part intended to underscore the relationship, mediated by the poet's creation, the narrator, between poet and audience; the functions of this "character," both intra- and extratextual, are examined (Chapter III).

Subject Area

Literature|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

HILTON, CATHERINE, "CONVENTION AND INNOVATION IN "PARTONOPEU DE BLOIS" (FRANCE)" (1984). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8410296.