Giving voice to Griselda: radical reimaginings of a medieval tale

Ward, Renee (2017) Giving voice to Griselda: radical reimaginings of a medieval tale. Studies in Medievalism, 26 . pp. 87-116. ISSN 0738-7164

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Abstract

This article introduces the Victorian writer Eleanora Louisa Hervey and her poetic responses to the Griselda story, including post-medieval editions of Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale that were popular in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Hervey diverges from the mainstream interpretations of Griselda and her story, and presents instead a radical, proto-feminist retelling. As this study shows, although she participates in the Chaucerian branch of Victorian medievalism, she boldly rejects canonical and more widely known versions of the tale. Hervey uniquely reimagines Griselda’s story from a female perspective, and, in doing so, presents a negative view of male authority and patriarchal social structures. She sharply critiques the heavily polarized views of women popular in the Victorian period, that they are either angels or monsters, which recall similar dichotomous views from the medieval period of women as either virgins or whores. This study thus explores how Hervey employs Griselda in texts geared towards adult, female, and child readers, as well as the different media and contexts within which she presents her adaptations of this medieval figure. Further, through its examination of Hervey’s unique and proto-feminist retellings, it provides new perspectives on how writers and audiences in the nineteenth century received, reimagined, and appropriated this medieval figure and her story. Finally, it restores a “forgotten and neglected” female author to the public and academic realms.

Keywords:Griselda, Chaucer, Medievalism, Victorian Literature, Women's Literature, Children's Literature, E. L. Hervey, Mrs T. K. Hervey
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
L Social studies > L321 Women's Studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
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:25244
Deposited On:20 Dec 2016 16:45

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