Too Many Women: Reading Freud, Derrida, and Lancelot

  • Miranda Griffin
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Reading can be seen as a practice that invites and stages processes of visualization by the readers and characters of a text. This chapter will explore these processes as they are invited and staged by the Vulgate Cycle, especially by its longest component text, the Lancelot.1 I shall argue that the scrutiny enacted by such processes in this text does not necessarily lead to clarity of focus, but rather, that an insistence on visibility can result in con¬fusion, specifically, between various female characters: a confusion that is recurrently couched in visual terms. In the Vulgate Cycle, as I shall demon¬strate, women often function as blind spots, troubling a gaze that desires dis¬tinction and definition, but which ends up finding and producing fusion and confusion.

Keywords

Europe Boron Amide Coherence Lution 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Jacques Derrida, Résistances de la psychanalyse (Paris: Gallilée, 1996). Translations of this work are taken from Resistances of Psychoanalysis, trans. Peggy Kamuf, Pascale-Anne Brault, and Michael Naas (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Sigmund Freud, Die Traumdeutung, Studienausgabe, Band 2 (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1982), p. 130n.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, The Penguin Freud Library, ed. Angela Richards and Albert Dickson, 15 vols. (London: Penguin, 1976), 4:186n.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Ferdinand Lot, Étude sur le “Lancelot en prose” (Paris: Champion, 1918), p. 108.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See Grace Armstrong Savage, “Father and Son in the Queste del Saint Graal,” Romance Philology 31 (1977): 1–16.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Lancelot, 7:462–76. See also Alexandre Micha, “La Tradition manuscrite du Lancelot en prose,” Romania 85 (1964): 297–98.Google Scholar
  7. Micha, Essais sur le cycle “Lancelot-Graal” (Geneva: Droz, 1987), pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Elspeth Kennedy, “The Scribe as Editor,” in Mélanges de langue et de littérature du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance offerts à J. Frappier, 2 vols. (Geneva: Droz, 1970), 1:523–31.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Elspeth Kennedy, Lancelot and the Grail (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), pp. 143–55.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Emmanuèle Baumgartner, “Sainte(s) Hélène(s),” in his De l’histoire de Troie au livre du Graal (Orleans: Paradigme, 1994), pp. 347–57—first published in Femmes Mariages-Lignages XIIe–XIVe siècle: Mélanges offerts à Georges Duby, ed. Jean Dufournet (Brussels: De Boeck University, 1992), pp. 43–54— traces the literary genealogy of women with this name from classical allu¬sions in Wace. Other critics have difficulty separating Hélène and Amide: writing specifically on the Vulgate Cycle, Howard Bloch and Alison Stones both call Galaad’s mother Elaine. R. Howard Bloch, Etymologies and Genealogies: A Literary Anthropology of the French Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 211Google Scholar
  11. Alison Stones, “Images of Temptation, Seduction and Discovery in the Prose Lancelot: A Preliminary Note,” Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 47 (1994): 733 [725–35].Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    On this debate, see Carol R. Dover, “From Non-Cyclic to Cyclic Lancelot: Recycling the Heart,” in Transtextualities: Of Cycles and Cyclicity in Medieval French Literature, ed. Sara Sturm-Maddox and Donald Maddox (Birmingham, NY: SUNY, 1996), p. 55 [53–70].Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    Alexandre Micha, “Les épisodes du Voyage en Sorelois et de la Fausse Guenièvre,” Romania 76 (1955): 334–41, and Essais, pp. 57–83.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Elspeth Kennedy, “The Two Versions of the False Guinevere Episode in the Old French Prose Lancelot,” Romania 77 (1956): 94–104 and Lancelot and the Grail.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    Elspeth Kennedy, “The Re-writing and the Re-reading of a Text: The Evolution of the Prose Lancelot,” in The Changing Face of Arthurian Romance: Essays on Arthurian Prose Romances in Memory of Cedric E. Pickford, ed. Alison Adams et al. (Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 1986), pp. 1–9.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    See Charles Méla, La Reine et le graal: La conjointure dans les romans du Graal de Chrétien de Troyes au Livre de Lancelot (Paris: Seuil, 1984), p. 360, and Laurence Harf-Lancner, “Les deux Guenièvre dans le Lancelot en prose,” in Lancelot: Actes du colloque des 14 et 15 janvier 1984, ed. Danielle Buschinger (Goppingen: Kummerle, 1984), p. 70 [63–73].Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    For an excellent discussion of this part of the Lancelot, see Paul Vincent Rockwell, Rewriting Resemblance in Medieval French Romance: Ceci n’est pas un graal (New York: Garland, 1995), pp. 43–60.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    E. Jane Burns, “Which Queen? Guinevere’s Transvestism in the French Prose Lancelot,” in Lancelot and Guinevere: A Casebook, ed. Lori J. Walters (New York: Garland, 1996), pp. 249–50 [247–65].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Emma Campbell and Robert Mills 2004

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  • Miranda Griffin

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