Challenging the boundaries of medieval romance: Thomas Chestre's Lybeaus Desconus

Ward, René (2004) Challenging the boundaries of medieval romance: Thomas Chestre's Lybeaus Desconus. Florilegium, 21 . pp. 119-134. ISSN 0709-5201

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Abstract

This article reassesses the often derided medieval author Thomas Chestre, as well as his tail-rhyme romance Lybeaus Desconus. It argues that while Chestre’s Lybeaus retains basic features and story lines of its source, the French Li Biaus Desconeüs by Renaud de Beaujeu, it simultaneously contradicts and challenges the authority of the source, seeking to establish its own place within the romance genre rather than be subordinate to generic ideals. Chestre rewrites his hero, establishing a new standard for knightly success: youth and inexperience become as acceptable as the romance conventions of maturity and experience. For Chestre, the process of rewriting the hero, and thus the genre, demonstrates that the idealized French culture epitomized by the courtly medieval romance is not superior, especially to English literary language or culture, and, as he retells the story of the fair unknown, he participates in a process that can be described as the political ‘Englishing’ of a French text.

Keywords:Middle English Romance, Tail-Rhyme, Translation, Heroes, Violence, Libeaus Desconus, Le Bel Inconnu, Renaut de Beaujeu, French Medieval Romance, Fair Unknown
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q200 Comparative Literary studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:25243
Deposited On:02 Dec 2016 09:30

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