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The Place of Homoerotic Motifs in the Medieval French Canon: Discontinuities and Displacements

  • Anna Kłosowska
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

This chapter analyzes selected fictional representations of same-sex themes, from the late twelfth to the late thirteenth century. It opens with false accusations of same-sex preference in two works associated with the literary patronage of Europe’s most powerful couple, Henry II Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, in England in the second half of the twelfth century: Roman d’Enéas, a translatio of Virgil, and Marie de France’s Lanval. Both these texts have been discussed from the point of view of queer studies, notably by Christopher Baswell, Simon Gaunt, Noah K. Guynn, and David M. Halperin.1 Two other texts use a similar motif, false attribution of same-sex preference as an explanation for heterosexual indifference or a convenient excuse used to shield a man from unwanted attentions of a powerful woman: Walter Map’s De nugis curialium, a collection of courtly anecdotes in Latin also connected to Henry II’s court, and a lyric poem by a northern trouvère Conon de Bethune (died 1224).2 Other texts mentioned in this chapter date approximately from the time of the likely composition of Enéas, Lanval, and De nugis, to the end of Conon’s life: Aucassin et Nicolete, a text dated between 1175 and 1250; and the early–thirteenth–century Lancelot–Grail cycle. The latest text is the Roman de la Rose, written by Guillaume de Lorris ca. 1230 and later continued by Jean de Meun ca. 1275–80.3

Keywords

Male Couple Grammatical Gender Love Story False Accusation French Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Enéas. Roman du 12e siècle, ed. J.-J. Salvedra de Grave (Paris: Champion, 1929); Marie de France, Les Lais de Marie de France, ed., intro. and trans. Laurence Harf-Lancner (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1990)Google Scholar
  2. Christopher Baswell, “Men in the Roman d’Eneas: The Construction of Empire,” in Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages, ed. Claire Lees (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 149–68Google Scholar
  3. Simon Gaunt, “From Epic to Romance: Gender and Sexuality in the Roman d’Eneas,” Romanic Review 83:1 (January 1992), pp. 1–27Google Scholar
  4. Noah D. Guynn, “Eternal Flame: State Formation, Deviant Architecture, and the Monumentality of Same-Sex Eroticism in the Roman d’Eneas,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6:2 (2000), pp. 287–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 2.
    Walter Map, Gualteri Mapes De nugis curialium distinctiones quinqué, ed. Thomas Wright (New York: AMS, 1968).Google Scholar
  6. Guillaume de Lorris and Jehan de Meung, Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Armand Strubel (Paris: PUF, 1984).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Martha Powell Harley, “Narcissus, Hermaphroditus, and Attis: Ovidian Lovers at the Fontaine d’Amors in Guillaume de Lorris’s Roman de la Rose,” PMLA 101:3 (1986), pp. 324–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  9. Simon Gaunt, “Bel Acueil and the Improper Allegory of the Romance of the Rose”, New Medieval Literatures 2 (1998), pp. 65–93; at p. 93; Ellen Friedrich, “When a Rose is not a Rose: Homoerotic emblems in the Roman de la Rose,” in Gender Transgressions, ed. Taylor, pp. 21–43.Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    Gaunt cites the following references: C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1936), p. 155Google Scholar
  11. John V. Fleming, The Roman de la Rose: A Study in Allegory and Iconography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 43–46Google Scholar
  12. Alan M.F. Gunn, The Mirror of Love: A Reinterpretation of the Romance of the Rose (Lubbock, Tex.: Texas University Press, 1952), pp. 107–109Google Scholar
  13. Douglas Kelly, Internal Difference and Meanings in the Roman de la Rose (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 107–109Google Scholar
  14. Heather M. Arden, The Romance of the Rose (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987), pp. 113–14, n. 8.Google Scholar
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  19. David Hult, “Language and Dismemberment: Abelard, Origen, and the Romance of the Rose,” in Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot, eds., Rethinking the “Romance of the Rose”: Text, Image, Reception (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), pp. 101–130Google Scholar
  20. Sarah Kay, The Romance of the Rose (London: Grant and Cutler, 1995), p. 46.Google Scholar
  21. 7.
    Jo Ann Hoeppner Moran, “Literature and the Medieval Historian,” Medieval Perspectives 10 (1995), pp. 49–66.Google Scholar
  22. 10.
    “Ce ne sont certainement pas les passages qui nous paraissent à nous, en effet, peu faits pour des oreilles des femmes; au xiie siècle, ils ne choquaient pas autant, si l’on en juge pas le lai de Lanval, où Marie de France place dans la bouche de la reine la même accusation que, dans Eneas, la mère de Lavinie adresse à Enée (v. 8567 et s.)”. J.-J. Salvedra de Grave, ed., Eneas: Roman du 12e siècle, 2 vols. (Paris: Champion, 1925 [vol. 1], 1929 [vol.2]).Google Scholar
  23. 12.
    Wistasse is quoted in Busby, “‘Plus acesmez qu’une popine’: Male Cross-Dressing in Medieval French Narrative,” In Gender Transgressions: Crossing the Normative Barrier in Old French Literature, ed. Karen J. Taylor (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 45–59; Ad Putter, “Transvestite Knights in Medieval Life and Literature,” in Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, p. 294, and Mills, “‘Whatever You Do,’” p. 20.Google Scholar
  24. 16.
    Lancelot-Grail, ed. Lacy, p. 323: The Story of Merlin, chapter 35. References to the French text are to H. Oskar Sommer, The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances, vols. 1–7 (Washington, D.C.: The Carnegie Institute, 1908–12), vol. 2, pp. 279–91.Google Scholar
  25. 21.
    Gaunt, “From Epic to Romance,” and “Straight Minds/Queer Wishes in Old French Hagiography: La Vie de Sainte Euphrosine,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 1:4 (1995), pp. 439–57.Google Scholar
  26. 28.
    Matthew Bardell, ed., La Cort d’Amor: Critical Edition. Research Monograph in French Studies 11. Oxford: Legenda (European Humanities Research Centre), 2002.Google Scholar
  27. 32.
    Daniel Poirion, “Narcisse et Pygmalion dans le Roman de la Rose” in Essays in Honor of Louis Francis Solano, ed. Raymond J. Cormier and Urban T. Holmes (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970), pp. 153–65.Google Scholar
  28. 34.
    Karl D. Uitti, “‘Cele [qui] doit estre Rose clamee’ (Rose w. 40–44): Guillaume’s Intentionality,” in Rethinking the Romance of the Rose: Text, Image, Reception, ed. Kevin Brownlee and Sylvia Huot (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), pp. 39–64.Google Scholar
  29. Jean Markale, Lancelot et la chevalerie arthurienne (Paris: Imago, 1985), p. 80.Google Scholar
  30. 37.
    Christiane Marchello-Nizia, “Amour courtois, société masculine, et figures du pouvoir,” Annales ESC 36 (1981), pp. 969–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. For a reading that resists Markale s and Marchello-Nizia’s emphasis on homosexual potential of the male couple, see Reginald Hyatte, “Recoding Ideal Male Friendship as Fine Amor in the Prose Lancelot,” Neophilologus 75:4 (1991), pp. 505–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Anna Kłosowska 2005

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  • Anna Kłosowska

There are no affiliations available

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