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Contemporary to the composition of the VdP story, the Estoire de Merlin c.
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There are some similarities here suggesting at least some cultural common source, and more importantly there are clear indications of the various roles which might be played by Merlin in Arthurian literature. In Merlot , we witness Merlin as a prophet, a magician-cum-miracle worker, an adviser, and the mouthpiece of the divine. He is an invisible, somewhat mysterious character who provides warnings, grants wishes, and wreaks terrible punishment. There is an unambiguous moral message: pride in riches is misplaced and worthless.
Although set jadis v. This Merlin figure is an agent of the Divine, in a position to teach a sinner a terrible lesson but still offer him the potential to save his soul. This is Merlin as the narrative sword of Christ, the literary preacher par excellence. All of this serves to accentuate the secular nature of jadis. Rather, thanks to the centrality of the character Merlin, this is a more secular legendary past which cannot wholly be divorced from the timescape of Arthurian legend.
Merlin is fully justified in withdrawing his aid once the agreement has been violated: he gives warnings at various stages in the narrative, none of which is insisted upon and all of which are ignored. The identification of Merlin with divine powers is hardly an invention of the author of the VdP , nor for that matter Robert de Boron Alexandre Micha has pointed out a number of compelling similarities between the figures of Christ and Merlin, all of which were in circulation by the turn of the thirteenth century, before the composition of our short pious narrative.
The author of Merlot was able to draw upon an established and fashionable tradition. Robert himself makes it clear that Merlin has been chosen by God for his mission Genesis 3, in sudore vultus tui vesceris pane donec revertaris in terram de qua sumptus es quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris. The peasant himself had complained that Fortune had not favoured him v.
These prophetic words are not heeded and, in the manner of the previous warnings, even the deaths of his children will not be interpreted correctly by the peasant. It also reflects a variety of pre-established character traits assigned to the figure of Merlin. Otherwise, the names of obviously Arthurian characters are notable by their absence, and this may come as a surprise to the modern reader of thirteenth-century texts brimming with intertextualities.
There is equally a relative dearth of other intertextual onomastic allusions, whether Arthurian, romance or other: we do encounter names such as Malaquin, Roland, Ganelon, Renart, Ysengrin, but usually briefly and in rather predictable situations. MND , I Mir 39, v. The editors of the NRCF suggest that the fabliau was composed in a region of northern France which had contact with England. There appears no other reason necessary to explain the mention of such an accessible city, which in turn implies that the fact that Arthur may have held his court here is of no significance The fabliaux can be very specific — local, localised, personal, but lacking the need for the allegorical meanings afforded by the Arthurian and other literary worlds.
Unless a specific satire or parody of an event, person or belief, their landscape can be as ostensibly meaningless as the names given to their characters or even attributed to authors. Names such as Lancelot and Guinevere are just too ambiguous for the serious, unambiguous Christian world of a miracle or pious tale. In the fabliaux the lack of Arthurian onomastic allusions is perhaps a little more puzzling, since there is, arguably perhaps, plenty of space for the ambiguity that an Arthurian-named character would generate.
And yet the fabliaux are basically — mostly at least — fairly unambiguous spaces too, where laughter and social satire have a purpose, and most are rather orthodox in their albeit mock morals. In fact, the general anonymity of the players across my corpus is very much at odds with the Arthurian world where not only people but also animals and objects received the name.
Short pious tales, miracles and fabliaux tend to place their protagonists in the role of universal paradigm.
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It is perhaps this representative nature which explains why intertextualities are more obviously present in themes and motifs and in more elaborate literary and technical mechanisms, than on an onomastic level. The heroes of the short narratives are either representative a poor man, holy woman, hermit or extremely specific a saint, the recipient of a miracle, a shrine.
As far as giving names in real life is concerned, at least one historical source suggests that no Arthurian name perhaps with the exception of Arthur 53 seems to rival the popularity of Roland and Olivier In France there was arguably more space for such names, but ambiguity cannot dissociate itself from the Arthurian onomastic world. It would seem that there was no real glut of Arthurian names in France across the Middle Ages Perhaps short pious and comic narratives are indeed relatively dependable windows on how people actually lived and what people actually did, as opposed to suggestions of how the same people dreamed.
In their own way, on the evidence of the texts examined here, authors of pious and comic Old French short narratives did likewise. There was a comfortable, and often writerly placing, or absence, of names that were potentially controversial. The MND are full of named prophets, monks, Biblical figures, hermits and saints, shrines and places of pilgrimage, many of which are very precise.
There are also references to characters and places from antiquity. In the case of the most celebrated Virgin Miracle collection, it helps that we know relatively much about Gautier himself. He was the courtliest of authors who alludes to many types of text in his MND If he makes few onomastic allusions to the Matter of Britain, then this is for a reason. Pious authors do not naturally explore moral and socio-political issues from the standpoint of Arthurian texts. Narratives of a spiritual nature provide firm answers to spiritual and sometimes political concerns.
Intertextual literary games are certainly allowed, but a blurring of Christian orthodoxy with the mores of the Arthurian world seems not to be desirable Names in the fabliaux may well have had much more significance for the immediate audience than we will ever know. And even then, throwaway references to popular Arthurian names are few. As for pious tales, their landscape is legendary in that Egypt, Pagan lands and the desert represent the pretty standard backdrop to tales of Christian heroism None of the late twelfth- and thirteenth-century traditions considered here needed to exploit the burgeoning Arthurian world and its relatively new onomastic tradition new, that is, when compared to Christian history and legend.
That is not to say that there is an absence of intertextuality: quite the reverse since no text was composed in a cultural void But Arthurian names were hardly ever used. This is perhaps to be expected in Christian texts; after all, they speak of conversion, piety and tangible spiritual reward. The real threats to the Christian world from both within Jews, heretics and without are at the root of these texts. What is interesting, and testament to the paradoxes of medieval life is that whilst at the same time as Gautier and the author of the VdP criticised the activities of jongleurs , good-for-nothings who recounted tales of Arthur, Charlemagne or comic activities, they borrowed nonetheless from their techniques Once again, this snapshot of the medieval literary world — viewed here through the lens of Arthurian onomastics — provides ample evidence of a confluence of cultures, even in works of genuine brevity.
Le Graal et la Table Ronde , ed. Rex quidam fuit, qui Artus vocabatur. Hoc dicto, non processit, sed ait: Videte, fratres, miseriam magnam.
Quando locutus sum de Deo, dormitastis; mox ut verba levitatis inserui, evigilantes erectis auribus omnes auscultare coepistis. Ego eidem sermoni interfui.
See also J. Crane , New York, Franklin, ; orig. Lecoy , 3 vols. One clear example of the political power of Arthurian literature is the Anglo-Norman Roman de Waldef , composed c.
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Scragg and C. Weinberg, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, , pp. See also R. Field , ed. Pastoureau goes on to note p. Lacy and G. De la chronique au roman , delivered at the 22 nd International Congress of the International Arthurian Society, Rennes, Noomen and N. Koenig , 4 vols.
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Lecoy , I-II that is the first VdP ; there were two continuations which do not concern us, dating from perhaps 50 years as the primitive text. These are largely Virgin miracles, and were published by Leccoy as vol. Other texts include Le Chevalier au barisel. Bretel , Paris, Champion, ; and H.
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Exempla were checked using only F. Berlioz et M. Lecoy de la Marche and J. I have also consulted J. Two recent articles provide compelling concrete evidence: R. Busby and C. Kleinhenz , Cambridge, Brewer, , pp. Stones and K. Krause , Turnhout, Brepols, , pp. In a later work, Busby shows plentiful codicological and thematic intertextualities regarding Arthurian material and short narratives, see K.
Busby , Codex and Context. Tubach , which has for its central themes lust, loyalty and justice. It is clear to see why this tale of adventure, double-crossing and vengeance should be popular. The author of the first VdP successfully manages to harness the various elements which constitute the narrative the folk-tale aspects of the hunt, weather, paths and a castle by a river; the romance motifs of swapping beds, an evil seneschal and his bad advice, and a background of powerful barons needing to be listened to; and the almost fablialesque action scenes of the various murders without it losing its hagiographical, pious nature.