Escanor: A Thirteenth-Century Romance by Girart d’Amiens

Le Roman d’Escanor is an enigmatic thirteenth-century French manuscript of 25939 lines that was probably written around 1280 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 24374). It was commissioned by Eleanor of Castile, wife to Edward I of England. She was a Spanish princess, who married an English king and thereby entered the line of ‘English’ queens. Eleanor also had French connections, as she was Countess of Ponthieu when the county became part of her dowry when she married Edward. Escanor should be considered part of the English, or British, literary canon because it was produced by an English queen for a courtly audience in her adopted country. And yet the text is also a work of French literature, being written in Old French; naturally, the first spoken language in the English royal court and among most of the nobility was still French at this point in time but I feel that in popular discourse the closeness of this European relationship has been largely forgotten. It is my feeling that Escanor has been omitted from mainstream scholarly discussion thus far precisely due to its slippage between languages, nationalities and literary traditions. The best and most recent full critical edition of the text exists in French, published by Richard Trachsler in 1994. There is, as yet, no English translation of this text, though for obvious reasons it would be of immense interest, if better known, to anyone studying subjects such as Arthurian literature, women’s studies, medieval print culture, comparative literature, book history, linguistics, historic European relations and many more.

References

Trachsler, Richard, ed. Girart d’Amiens: Escanor, roman arthurien en vers de la fin du XIIIe siècle. Genève, Droz: Textes littéraires français, 1994.

Digitisation of MS Français 24374: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9063126g


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Filed under aims, introduction, manuscript, translation

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