Abstract/Details

The mark of the hero: Language and identity in the Middle English romance


2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation is a study of the early fourteenth-century English manuscript, National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.2.1 (The Auchinleck Manuscript), and three of the eighteen romances it contains. Commercially produced ca. 1330-40, Auchinleck is the earliest extant English manuscript containing texts exclusively in Middle English rather than Latin or French, and the majority of its 44 surviving texts appear there in their earliest copies. Through an examination first of the manuscript as a whole, then of the romances Amis and Amiloun, Sir Tristrem, and Sir Orfeo, I demonstrate that the physical and literary act of translation from French to English that constitutes the Auchinleck Manuscript had a transformative effect upon its texts, causing their authors and copyists to incorporate in them a direct (though often subtle) reflection of the social and cultural environment of fourteenth-century England. Chapter 1 draws on contemporary manuscript and historical evidence to argue that in this period literacy in English was predicated upon literacy in French and/or Latin, and that Auchinleck's exclusive use of English was thus a matter of choice rather than necessity, constituting an assertion of the value both of the language of its texts and of Englishness itself. That assertion, I argue through my analyses in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Amis and Amiloun, Sir Tristrem and Sir Orfeo, influenced the scribes and poets who selected, adapted and/or translated romances for inclusion in the Auchinleck Manuscript, heightening their sensitivity to the interplay between those texts and the environment in which they lived and worked. Amis and Amiloun makes no secret of its dependence on an Anglo-Norman source; Sir Tristrem is derived from the Anglo-Norman verse Tristan of Thomas; Sir Orfeo has no vernacular forebear but is indebted to Ovid's tale of Orpheus. The Auchinleck versions of all three, however, display a distinctly English character, arguing that the circumstances of their composition and/or inscription prompted these scribes and poets, consciously or unconsciously, to modify these works so as to create English translations of their sources that function not only linguistically, but in the social, cultural and political sense as well.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Literature;
Middle Ages;
British and Irish literature
Classification
0297: Literature
0297: Middle Ages
0593: British and Irish literature
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics, Amis and Amiloun, Auchinleck Manuscript, Hero, Identity, Language, Middle English, Romance, Sir Orfeo, Sir Tristrem
Title
The mark of the hero: Language and identity in the Middle English romance
Author
Higgins, Ann Margaret
Number of pages
283
Publication year
2006
Degree date
2006
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 67/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780542982163
Advisor
Diamond, Arlyn
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3242102
ProQuest document ID
305306427
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305306427
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