contributor.author: Juan-Carlos Conde

title.none: Grieve, Floire & Blancheflor (Conde)

identifier.other: baj9928.9903.019 99.03.19

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Juan-Carlos Conde, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, conde@crea.rae.es

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1999

identifier.citation: Grieve, Patricia E. Floire & Blancheflor and the European Romance. Cambridge Studies in Medieval LIterature, vol. 32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp. xiii, 240. $59.95. ISBN: 0-521-43162-X.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 99.03.19

Grieve, Patricia E. Floire & Blancheflor and the European Romance. Cambridge Studies in Medieval LIterature, vol. 32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp. xiii, 240. $59.95. ISBN: 0-521-43162-X.

Reviewed by:

Juan-Carlos Conde
Universidad Complutense, Madrid
conde@crea.rae.es

Of all the characters and motifs characteristic of medieval European romance, those of the history of the love and adventures of Floire and Blancheflor (hereafter F&B) surely enjoyed an ample diffusion and a great capacity for inspiration for a wide number of medieval readers. Critics have devoted much attention to the several narratives that derive from the nucleus of the love story of F&B, from the early times of modern Romanic studies (Gaston Paris, Du Meril, Herzog, Reinhold) to the present. Marvin Ward's recent bibliographic survey ("Floire et Blancheflor: A Bibliography", Bulletin of Bibliography 40 [1983], 45-64) gives an account of the extent of scholarship about this legend and its literary witnesses. Patricia E. Grieve's study adds a new entry " and an important and brilliant one " to that survey. From the statements that Grieve makes in her introduction (pp. 1-12), it is clear how important her study is.

Firstly, Grieve pays very special attention to one of the two extant Spanish versions of F&B; this is important because the literary romance genre (understood as a narrative prose or verse fiction centered on intertwined love and adventures) has been overlooked, by and large, in medieval Spanish literary studies. The eminent British scholar, Alan Deyermond, has called it the lost genre of medieval Spanish literature. Within this latter categorization, F&B is not an exception, though one must recognize the recent sound studies and editions published by Nieves Baranda and Victor Infantes, a true landmark in this field of research. On another no less important level, it is widely accepted that pan-European or pan-Romanic literary and cultural studies have tended to ignore, or underestimate, texts of Spanish provenance. Grieve's work remedies these deficiencies. More precisely, Grieve rescues from neglect one of the two Spanish texts that record the elaboration of the F&B legend, the lesser known and least circulated of them which she titles Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor. This Cronica is completely ignored by modern scholars engaged in the study of F&B (and absent from Ward's forementioned bibliography; Grieve also notes its absence from Roberto Giacone's overview, "Floris and Blauncheflur: Critical Issues", Rivista di Studi Classici, 27 [1979], 395-405). Grieve believes this Cronica to be a text of outstanding importance for the study of the dissemination throughout medieval Europe of the F&B story.

The second reason that makes Grieve's work a major contribution is the point of view adopted for her study: the examination of all European versions of F&B with the aim of determining the different processes by which this legend was transformed or modified in the Middle Ages, and to determine how, and for which reasons, and through which kinds of genre blending, the recontextualizations of F&B took place. Grieve notes (pp. 6-7) that each and every one of these transformations tells us something about how the text was read and understood in its own time. In short, and although Grieve does not explicity say so, what she is aiming at is a diachronic poetics of romance: with this group of thematically-related texts, ample and representative, composed within a cohesive but not too narrow timeframe, Grieve takes aim at an analysis and explanation of the ways in which, over time, the dominant features of genre evolve and change. In this ambitious objective, Grieve meets with notable success.

In the first part of the book, "Floire and Blanchefor as Peregrinus" (pp. 13-50), Grieve examines the literary diffusion, or the textual pilgrimage, of the F&B legend throughout medieval Europe, and describes the intricate network of relationships linking the different witnesses of F&B through comparisons with the text in a Spanish manuscript version (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 7583) of the Primera Cronica General, a thirteenth-century history of Spain planned, sponsored and developed by King Alfonso X of Castile. This Old Spanish version of F&B, previously edited by Jose Perez Gomez, has been little noted by scholars, doubtless owing to its appearance in an obscure journal ("Leyendas medievales espanolas del ciclo carolingio", Anuario de Filologia [Maracaibo, Venezuela], 2-3 [1963-1964], 7-136). This, as Grieve notes, has been a drawback in F&B scholarship, because this Spanish text is of the greatest value for the understanding and explanation of the textual life of F&B's legend. Grieve summarizes clearly and briefly the main stages of the textual pilgrimage of F&B, beginning with the two French versions, the so-called "aristocratic" text (or "I", 13th century) and the "popular" text (or "II", 14th century), both of which are traditionally believed to be the oldest extant European versions of the legend (p. 15). This belief led some scholars to postulate a French origin for the story, while others (mainly Gaston Paris), guided by the southern versions " the Spanish romance published in the 16th century, the Italian Cantare de Fiorio e Biancifiore, and the recasting contained in Boccacccio's Filocolo " maintained that the provenance of the F&B legend must be Eastern. According to G. Paris, some features shared by these three southern witnesses prove the existence of a third branch of the legend, probably derived from an Italo-Spanish Ur-text (p. 16). Grieve believes that the neglected Spanish Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor proves the existence of G. Paris' Ur-text, and allows us to know its main features: therefore, this is a discovery of maximum importance for all future research on F&B. This section of Grieve's study is both concise and accurate. Her summary of the origin and diffusion of F&B throughout Europe, her account of the different families of texts and their witnesses (pp. 13-23) are faultlessly presented, and they constitute, together with the bibliographic information on pp. 210-215, a useful guide to the textual history of F&B in medieval Europe. Nevertheless, some minute clarification ought to be made. On p. 20 (note 6), when Grieve deals with the provenance of the base text used by A. Bonilla y San Martin for his edition of the Spanish 16th-century La historia de los dos enamorados Flores y Blancaflor (Madrid: Ruiz hermanos, 1916) " a copy of a non-dated edition (but Sevilla: Cromberger, ca. 1532) ", she assigns it, as Bonilla had done (pp. 205-06), to the library of the Duke of T'Serclaes de Tilly. But she is wrong in stating that nothing is known of this library. In fact, the Duke's library was divided at his death and dispersed among six heirs. In some cases, books were sold; in others, as with the sections that were inherited by the Marquis of Morbecq and the Marquis de Lede, they remained intact (see A. Rodriguez Monino, Nuevo diccionario bibliográfico de pliegos sueltos poéticos del XVI, ed. A. L.-F. Askins and V. Infantes [Madrid: Castalia, 1997], p. 73; Los pliegos poeticos de la coleccion del Marques de Morbecq [Madrid: Estudios Bibliograficos, 1962], pp. 30-31). Here, it is important to state that a copy of the edition consulted by Bonilla does exist; it is housed in the Bibliotheque de la Sorbonne (Paris), under shelfmark R XVI 879(2) as noted by Infantes and Baranda in their Narrativa popular de la Edad Media. La doncella Teodor. Flores y Blancaflor. Paris y Viana (Madrid: Akal, 1995), p. 48. On the other hand, it should be added to what is said on pp. 22-23 that Diego Catalan studied the chronicle manuscript that contains the Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor in his La "Estoria de Espana" de Alfonso X. Creacion y evolucion (Madrid: Fundacion Ramon Menendez Pidal / Univ. Autonoma de Madrid, 1992), pp. 157-83. This is a study of the greatest importance.

One of the main contributions of Grieve's book is her reassessment of the Spanish Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor (pp. 22-36). The manuscript containing it dates from the late 14th or early 15th century. The text, however, was likely composed ^×and joined to the textual tradition of the Estoria de Espana " around 1300 (p. 28). This date is attested by the mentioning of the legend of F&B in the Gran Conquista de Ultramar (ca. 1300, perhaps slightly earlier), fact that allows the positing of an Spanish F&B before 1300 (pp. 28-30). If this is so, the Spanish Cronica takes on new interest because of its early date of composition and textual peculiarities, and not just because of its presence and diffusion in Spain at a time earlier than previously thought but also because of the information it adds to the greater clarification of F&B's textual pilgrimage throughout Europe.

Afterwards, Grieve seeks for the reasons why this romance of F&B should have been incorporated into an historical account of Spain. Her conclussion, supported by studies of Uitti, Catalan and Spiegel, is that the explanation is to be found in tendencies such as the progressive nationalization of historiography, historians^Ò growing interest in lineage as the backbone for history, and the trend toward novelization, this latter giving way to the inclusion of legendary, literary and other fictional narratives. Besides, the Castilian political situation during the transition between the 13th and 14th centuries, with its problems of succession and political instability, allows the reading of F&B as a political allegory. All this helps to explain why the Spanish Cronica was composed at the earliest of these dates and copied again at the second of them (pp. 30-36).

Having just affirmed that the Cronica is important because of the light it sheds on the pan-European itinerary of the story, it is fair to say that the exploration of this circumstance comprises the greater part of Grieve's book. Such importance is clearly stated in her analysis of the relationship between the Spanish Cronica and the 13th-century Icelandic prose account of F&B (a copy of a now-lost Old Norse text). There are curious features and details of the Icelandic text that appear also in the Cronica (p. 36) and these can be explained, Grieve posits, through the direct contacts maintained between Castile and Norway when Alfonso X's brother, Felipe, wed Kristin, daughter of king Hakon of Norway (pp. 37-39). While Grieve cannot present conclusive evidence that this is how the Cronica reached Scandinavia, she judges it likely that the timing of the wedding makes her explanation plausible and probable, a likely way to explain the coincidences between two F&B witnesses so geographically apart the one from the other. All the remarks about the Spanish Cronica made in this part of the work by Grieve show that this text represents a state of the F&B's literary life not known until now, and whose characteristic features help to understand better the relationships between the extant literary versions of the legend of F&B: Grieve proves it by examining a number of thematic, lexical and onomasiological difficulties present in different versions of the legend, all of them more easily solved by taking into consideration the text of the Cronica, which shows itself closer to the early stages of development of F&B than any other text (pp. 39-50).

The second part of the book, "The road of conversion", is the largest one (pp. 51-181). Here the idea of "conversion" is used in two different senses: firstly, the presence of religious conversion in the text (mainly, Flores^Ò conversion to Christianity); secondly, the changes experienced by the legend of F&B along its entire life in a long series of texts (textual conversions, genre sliding and blending). The examination of this point is of the greatest interest in order to shed more light about European medieval literature: the legend of F&B is a good watchtower to contemplate how medieval translators and refashioners read the texts " for they were first of all readers of a pre-existing text, see p. 6 of Grieve's introduction " and then made their work in accordance with their interests and ideas: so, "the story," summarizes Grieve, "constantly undergoes recontextualization" (p. 7). The first of the chapters of this second part of the book, "Cunning and Ingenuity or Divine Intervention?" (pp. 53-85) inquires into the importance of cunning and ingenuity (opposite divine intervention) in the construction of the plot of the different texts of F&B. After examining the texts, Grieve concludes that it is possible to trace an evolution from the aristocratic French poem, in which engin and conseil play a role not uncommon in narrative, to the expansion of engin in the Middle English version as an intrincate narrative device, to the transformation and expansion of engin and conseil in the "converted" texts, Il Filocolo, the Spanish Chronicle and the Spanish prose romance, where cunning and ingenuity, councils and counsel are interwoven into the narrative tapestry of the unfolding of Divine plans (p. 85).In this interesting and well-developed chapter there are some minor mistakes. For instance, there is a bad understanding (p. 75) of the Spanish word estorcer in a passage of the Cronica: it is translated by Grieve as 'to threaten', when the right meaning of the word is 'to escape', 'to evade': this causes a misinterpretation of the Cronica's passage discussed by Grieve. Anyway, these little details do not diminish the brilliance of the general argumentation developed by Grieve.

The second chapter of the second part of the book, "Signs, wonders and the telling of the tale" (pp. 86-133) examines the presence and function of the "inscribed texts" (concept defined in pp. 86-87) in the different narratives of F&B, that is, the presence of references or allusions to other texts (or even iconographic representations) which form a subtext that must be taken into account for the right understanding of the history: "the inscribed texts focus the attention of the audience on something outside the story itself, either as part of the structure of meaning within the tale or as means of creating links between this texts and others" (p. 86). As Grieve states, it is important to study this aspect in the different versions of F&B not in terms of a source study, but intending "specifically to address how the presence of reading, writing and narrating help to tell this story, and especially how these concepts work in tandem with the overt theme of the work, that is, conversion" (p. 87). This appraisal is very suitable in the case of F&B due to the changing nature of the literary life of the legend of F&B ("at heart," says Grieve, "romance transformed to other genres " chronicle, epic, and myth in the case of the early Spanish text, epic, allegory, history and myth in the case of Boccaccio", p. 88), a changing life whose main consequence is that "some features of the text will exhibit polysemous qualities that permit multiple readings of the various texts" (p. 88).

With this statement as a starting point, the chapter is structured in three main sections: the first one is a survey of the literary and iconographic allusions referred to the topics of pilgrimage, garden, and conversion; the second one examines the most important images used in the development of the story, and the third one is a study " mainly devoted to Boccaccio's Filocolo, because its special complexity " of the way in which narrative voice and narrative plot are articulated in the different versions of F&B.

The first of these three parts (pp. 89-110) examines the aforementioned topics, by far the most important ones in all the versions of F&B. Pilgrimage is of a central importance, because all versions use, "as framing fictions" (p. 89), the world of pilgrimage, mainly that to Santiago de Compostela. This contextualizing frame reaches its most prominent narrative function, according to Grieve, in the two literary versions of F&B more narratively elaborated: the Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor and Il Filocolo (p. 89). In both texts, besides the thematic contextualization referred to the Crusades or the historical situation of 13th-century Spain, "the notion of pilgrimage, far from being forgotten, does in fact become a center of meaning" (p. 89), as Grieve states, pointing out that in these two texts pilgrimage " and not the love story " is the thematic nucleus of the work (pp. 89-91). The garden theme (that existing in the fortress in which Blanchefleur is retained by the Admiral) in F&B has been amply examined by scholars. Grieve's point of view is the "more abstract, perhaps archetypal, [...] of the clash between humankind and nature" (p. 91). From this point of view, different textual elements aim to the same target: the opposition between the tower and the garden as a opposition between natural and artificial, the capability of a basket of flowers (that in which Flores is hidden) to trespass the fortress, the undoubted opposition between nature and craftsmanship present in every garden, in short, a set of features built up around the imaginary basic polarization between natura and ars (that is, between nature and humaneness), and, in the last stage, the unshakeable strength of desire born from true love " as Flores and Blanchefleur's " opposite to the systematic eroticism imposed by the Admiral into his garden / harem (pp. 92-96). Doubtless, the pages in which all these aspects of F&B are examined are some of the more brilliant ones of this book.

The conversion theme reaches its highest point of importance in the textual life of F&B in the pages of the Spanish Cronica. In this text, when the two lovers come back from the East to Spain, a fierce storm drives their ship from the rest of the fleet, and brings them to the shore of an island on which an Augustinean community is established. Some nights after the arrival of Flores and Blanchefleur, Saint Augustine himself appears, causing general amazement, and, no doubt, auguring Flores^Ò forthcoming conversion to christianism. As Grieve convincingly shows (pp. 96-99), the figure of Augustine and his Confessions as an icon of conversion are present as a subtext (or "inscribed text", following Grieve's words) throughout this episode. However, perhaps Grieve's analysis of the presence of St. Augustine as subtext in Il Filocolo (pp. 99-100) is less convincing, and a little bit forced by a cupiditas symmetriae between the Cronica and Il Filocolo.

Immediately afterwards Grieve deals with the image of the ship considered as a "structural mainstay" (p. 100) of F&B. She correctly underlines this motif, taking as her point of departure the symbolic values attributed by Northrop Frye to shipwreck, which "often parallels the near-death or false death of the soul through sin and redemption" (p. 100), a quite significant fact: while in the English, French and Norwegian versions of F&B voyages do not end in a shipwreck, in the two Spanish texts and Il Filocolo they do: these facts are in accordance with the structural prominence that conversion has in all these three texts. As it happens in many other aspects examined throughout Grieve's study, it is in Boccacio's Filocolo where the symbolic potential of the ship and navigation " including the iconography about the rudderless ship and its association with Santiago the Apostle " reach their greatest power (pp. 102-105).

Particularly interesting, given its affinities with some of the whereabouts of F&B's textual diffusion in European literatures studied in the first chapter of the book (pp. 19, 36-39, 50, among others), is the consideration given by Grieve to certain features related with the "speculum principum" or "miroir des princes" tradition which are present in the Cronica, Il Filocolo and the Flores saga ok Blankiflur. According to Grieve's analysis (pp. 115-117), these three prose texts are to a certain extent concerned with matters of good government and prince's education, especially Il Filocolo. Her hypothesis is that it is very likely that the Cronica was the first of these three texts in dealing with these aspects and, years after, Boccaccio in his Filocolo expanded this theme to its greatest potential.

The third and last part of this third chapter is devoted to the examination of the narrative structure of the different texts of F&B literary life (pp. 118-123). Two are the texts whose complexity in this aspect is highly remarcable, according to Grieve: the Cronica and Il Filocolo. Its complexity is, to a great extent, given by its presentation of the legend as an episode linked with history: in the Cronica, with Spanish history (pp. 119-120); in Il Filocolo, and throughout the development of a higly complex textual construction, with "an universal, national and personal history" (p. 120). Grieve is absolutely right when she concludes: "In sum, Boccaccio fuses personal, national and universal history, by concretizing abstracts " love and desire " and developing multiple poetic discourses, all within the framework of pilgrimage and conversion, the staples of Christian history on earth" (p. 120). In terms of their narrative architecture, Il Filocolo, the Cronica and the aristocratic French version have common features: "all refer to a written text that preceded the present account and that is, naturally, unavailable to us for direct consultation" (p. 122), understanding "text" in its widest sense: in the cases of the French text and Boccaccio^Òs, a reference is made to a first oral state of the story; in the case of the Cronica, and, again, the French text, a stage of previous written life is mentioned, and, finally, in Il Filocolo and the Cronica there is a reference to an eyewitness that tells the story to posterity. Grieve rightly stresses the narrative complexity of some of F&B's narratives, especially Il Filocolo (that is the reason why Grieve made a special approach to it, pp. 123-131, according with the statement made in p. 124). Nevertheless, the analysis made by Grieve of this questions related with narrative structure in the Cronica might not be completely accurate, due to an obvious matter of decontextualization of the text: it is absolutely neccesary to take in consideration that in fact the Cronica is a part of a real chronistic and historiographical text, and narrative strategies used in the Cronica are the typical ones in the historiographical textual pattern developed by the Alphonsine tradition, the strongest and more important in Spanish Middle Age. Even though Sigeberto's work, frequently mentioned in the Cronica, is lost (Grieve suitably cites Diego Catalan's work devoted to it), the way in which it is handled by the Cronica's author is the usual one in Alphonsine historiography, and there is not any difference between the "cuenta Sigiberto en su estoria" which can be read frequently in the Cronica and the very often used throughout Alfonso's Estoria de Espana "cuenta el arcobispo en su latin" o "dize don Lucas de Tuy". What I mean is that the presence of Sigeberto in the Cronica cannot be understood as a narrative device, for it is a trace of compilation procedures characteristic of alfonsine historiography (brilliantly studied by Diego Catalan in different epoch-making works). If Grieve had taken into account this circumstance, surely enough she never would have made some arguable statements, like that on p. 121 when she makes reference to the suddenness of narrative transitions in the Cronica (the procedure discussed there is the characteristic of alfonsine historiography), or that on pp. 121-122 about the relationship between the Cronica's narrator and Sigeberto: what is to be examined here is not the narrative articulation of a fictional text, nor the narrative perspectivism; the point here is the procedures used by historiographers trained in the alfonsine tradition in the construction of a historiographical account. In sum, the mistake made by Grieve is summarized by herself when she states that the Cronica "probably because of its epic origins and because it is the version for which the events of such pagan-Christian conflicts had the most actuality, situates the love story within a believable -- indeed, historical -- context" (p. 132, italics mine). No, this is not correct. It cannot be said that it was a literary author that decided to write a narrative of F&B in Spanish and, conscious of his (or her) craftsmanship, developed a textual and narrative strategy in which the love and adventure story was inserted into a historiographic framework. What really happened was the following: in a certain moment of the textual development of one of the versions of the Estoria de Espana, somebody engaged in the reworking of the text decided to expand it with new narrative materials of epic and French nature. It must be born in mind that the narrative of F&B contained in the Spanish Cronica is a fictional text inserted into a wider textual frame of a very different nature, a historiographical one. To forget this link can be the cause of some misunderstanding of the Cronica's narrative configuration: what we have here are mainly the narrative strategies characteristic of historiographical writing in the Spanish middle ages, not the specifical ones of a Spanish romancier engaged in the building of a fictional account.

The fourth chapter of the book ("Routes of conversion: time and space", pp. 134-158) aims to discern the way in which spheres of time and space are literarily treated in all versions of F&B, and how they are linked to the tale of conversion which is the legend's core. The scope of the study is mainly focused again in the Cronica and Il Filocolo (pp. 138-139; in pp. 139-140 Grieve shows again the great importance the Cronica has for the explanation of some aspects of the boccaccean text), especially the second, a quite more complex text. Grieve rightly points out the significance of some boccacean passages, like, for instance, the change of the day of the lovers^Ò birth from Palm Sunday (the date consigned in all F&B's narratives) to Pentecost, in order to take advantage of this day's resonances, both religious ("the origin of man's ability to follow Christ through the gift of speech", p. 146, that is, linked with the conversion theme), and literary ones ("Pentecost as a secular linguistic symbol, as a time of telling tales", ibid.), and so, in both cases associated with the act of narration and discourse. A minimum change, an apparently insignificant reelaboration of the chronology of the received legend, that indeed shows its relevance as a linking resource between the theme of conversion to Christianity (with all its mythical resonances) and narrative craftsmanship. This is only an example of the aspects examined by Grieve in some pages (144-158) marked throughout by a distinguished critical acumen. This chapter ends with the survey of various features shared by the Cronica and Il Filocolo which evidence the close relationship that exists between these two texts (pp. 153-158). Grieve is absolutely right when she emphasizes this point, because these affinities help to explain many features of Il Filocolo, believed until now to be idiosyncratic of this text, and now, due to the earlier date of the Spanish Cronica, most likely caused by a presence of the Spanish text in the boccacean one: this is crucial for the right understanding of the transmission of F&B in European medieval literature.

In the fifth and last chapter, "Generic crossroads" (pp. 159-181) Grieve examinesthose moments in the various works in which the author shows a deliberate decision to turn his text [...] towards a particular narrative or thematic goal " a particular genre, as it were " or, as the case of Boccaccio, away from a kind of literature and towards the "horizon of expectations" of his own audience (p. 159).In other parts of her study Grieve had examined briefly some aspects related to this point (the transformation of a story of love and adventures into a hagiographic narrative; the historiographic treatment of aspects close, by its nature, to epic, etc...), but here she deals in detail with these aspects, linking the thematic changes undergone by F&B with the transformations experienced by the legend at the level of literary genre. From this point of view, Grieve rightly states that "it is precisely the expansion of the conversion material that transforms a mere love story into epic and hagiographic structures of meaning" (p. 161). This aspect is almost absent from the English and French texts of F&B, but it has a very special relevance in the "southern versions" (the two Spanish ones, and Il Filocolo). At the same time, such an aspect like F&B's lineage is equally related, in terms of its vinculation with the generic configuration of the texts, with the topic of conversion. Grieve supports this brilliant statement with the textual coherence showed by southern texts of F&B when they link Blancaflor's parents' massacre by Saracens with the reasons that in the future will lead Flores to conversion and, then, to the enlargement of Christendom as a result of his conquests: without that killing Flores would have never been brought into contact with Christianity, a contact whose importance is underlined in the Cronica with highly symbolic elements: for instance, the nursing of Flores at the breasts of Blancaflor's mother (pp. 161-162). Such a thematic aspect is very important for the understanding of the transformation of a love and adventure narrative into a series of texts where historical and religious aspects (much closer by their nature to epic and hagiographic literature) become the thematic core of the work (for the analysis of other related aspects, see pp. 163-167).

The more interesting and complex texts at this level are again, according to Grieve, the Spanish Cronica and Il Filocolo, and they are analyzed to the extent of detail they deserve. With regard to the first, Grieve stresses how the fictional narrative linked to the historiographical account works as a mythical paradigm of the trascendence of Christian history (v. p. 168). This is a correct appreciation, which is unfortunately combined with some mistakes of approach similar to others aforemetioned. It is not correct to state that "The chronicle-version maintains its level of historicity by alternating chapters of the love story with chapters of a real historical chronicle" (p. 168, see also pp. 169 and 170); as I stated above, it must be taken into account the peculiar textual situation of the Cronica embedded into a truly historiographical account, and here again Grieve forgets this fact. The alternation between fiction and history it is not a narrative strategy used by the author of the Cronica, but an outcome of the most usual way of combining sourcetexts according to the alphonsine-like historiographical modus operandi (especially in times when the original meticulousness of the historiographical activity promoted by the Wise King provided the freedom to incorporate materials of quite a different nature from the merely historiographical) always guided by an extreme respect for chronology that explains and controls the careful interweaving of the different sourcetexts.

In addition to these aspects, Grieve also deals with what is called, in the New-historicist mode, the "social logic of the text", that is, the imprint left in the text by historical and social matters, and, on the other hand, the drawing up inside the text of proposals able to act in the social and historical milieu. From this theoretical starting point, Grieve suggests a reading of the Cronica as a political allegory: given that the date of composition of the Cronica coincides (as already proved in p. 34) with an epoch of instability and marked by discussion about the order of succession to the Castilian throne (complaints about Sancho IV's legitimacy arose by followers of Alfonso de la Cerda, son of the French princess Blanche), it is possible to read the Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor as a vindication of an almost mythical link between of French and Castilian royal houses that foreshadows Alfonso de la Cerda's lineage (p. 169). This point of view can be shared or rejected, but in any case it is not a significant contribution, in my opinion, to our knowledge of the Cronica as a literary specimen of the legend of F&B; on the other hand, if we consider the Cronica as a fictional tale inserted into a manuscript containing a late version of the Estoria de Espana, the chronological lapse neutralizes the explanatory strongness of such an allegorical reading: the late version, the so-called Cronica fragmentaria, is dated in 1350 or after, when the allegorized facts are part of a very distant past.

The pages devoted to Il Filocolo in this part of the book (pp. 171-181) point out the metaliterary bias that guided Boccaccio in the composition of this work: "Whereas the Chronicle moves towards a predetermined end of ultimate truths, Boccaccio's concerns are often metaliterary, as exemplified by his exploration of which discourse prevails, or dominates, and how it does so" (p. 171). The complex narrative construction built up by the Italian with the story of the two lovers as a core brings together a great number of generic, narrative and thematic features, as Grieve properly emphasizes: hagiography, adventure romance, love romance, good-government matter, pagan mythology and others, gather in a sort of initiatory peregrination that is at the base of a complex, polysemic, ironic tale about literature and human love, unified by the strength of Christianity and for the omnipotence " both moral and aesthetic " of the written word. As Grieve summarizes, a true "collision of literary worlds" (p. 180) that gives place to a text that "may be considered one of Boccaccio's opere minori", but thatin its concern for literature and history, for moral authority and literary matters, the problem of imaginative literature and the awareness of genres, [...] presages in very interesting ways the formal concerns of a more sophisticated Boccaccio, as seen, for example, in his masterpiece, the Decameron (p. 181).The book closes with an epilogue ("Poetics of continuation", pp. 182-201) which deals with the literary survival of the legend of Floire and Blanchefleur beyond the chronological boundaries of the previously studied texts. Firstly, Grieve examines the information present in the different texts of F&B about the ideas of progeny and continuation (pp. 182-89): from the birth of their daughter Berthe, Charlemagne's mother (in French, English and German versions), to the lack of descent and the founding of religious establishments in Norwegian-Icelandic texts, and also the self-restraint of Il Filocolo: no descendence is mentioned, there is no sequel to the history (pp. 182-83). Hispanic texts on F&B have divergent informations: the prose romance presents one Gordion, only child of F&B (see pp. 188-89), while the Cronica coincides with the outline established by French, German and English texts and shows Berta as the descendant of Flores and Blancaflor. This outline gives way to a line Flores and Blancaflor/Berta/Mainete, characterized by the mixture of romance, epic and hagiography into a lineage made out of history and fiction that enjoyed a good fortune in European medieval literature. This genealogical line will reach its greatest complexity, as Grieve points out, in the Cronica, given the inclusion of F&B's story (as well as those of Berta and Mainete, both present too in the aforementioned ms. 7583 of the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid) into the historiographical account of the Estoria de Espana. This links the genealogy and offspring of Flores and Blancaflor with the wider lineage of the Spanish rulers (both Christian and Muslim), see pp. 184-188. Secondly, Grieve examines (pp. 190-191) the mention of F&B contained in the English religious romance Emare (mid-fourteenth century). Its anonymous author coincides with his contemporary Juan Ruiz in mentioning F&B and Tristram and Isolde as paradigms of virtue and fidelity. Thirdly, Grieve examines (pp. 191-193) the presence of F&B in John Keats's The Eve of St. Agnes (1819), and consigns that the text handled by the Irish poet was a French translation of the Spanish sixteenth-century prose romance. Fourthly, Grieve examines the presence of F&B in Sepharadic balladry, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century (pp. 193-198), and what she calls the "influence of Floire and Blancheflor on courtship and conjugal patterns in late twentieth-century Spanish society" (p. 182), that is, the presence of F&B's legend in Spanish courtship folktales (pp. 198-201). Both issues point out how F&B's story roots in Spanish popular tradition, a fact which shows, as Grieve rightly says, "its enduring power to engage readers and listeners because this protean story never loses sight of the spiritual and social needs that it addresses" (p. 201), or, in other words, its archetypal potential as a universal narrative motif, demonstrated throughout literary transformations and adaptations which constitute a literary pilgrimage with few comparisons in literary history.

The volume closes with two appendices: a brief summary of the lapse of hispanic history in which the Cronica de Flores y Blancaflor is inserted (pp. 202-203) and a table in which the most relevant names of persons and places of the different medieval European versions of F&B are presented in parallel columns (pp. 204-209). These two appendices are followed by a complete and well-organized bibliography on F&B (both of primary and secondary sources, pp. 210-230) and two useful indexes: one of names, placenames and titles (pp. 231-237) and a general index (pp. 237-240).

Despite the insignificant objections already made in this review, Grieve's work is an impressive survey of all European versions of Floire and Blanchefleur marked throughout by fine critical acumen. The comparatistic point of view adopted by Grieve deserves much praise: when a scholar faces a medieval text, he or she must always bear in mind that linguistic and political boundaries are not significant at all with regard to literature. The pan-European life of Floire and Blanchefleur is a good example of this; and given that fact, the only sensible way to give direction in such an inquiry as Grieve's is to forget cultural and linguistic borders. Of course, this is not easy at all, and I must state that Grieve is successful in this attempt. This book, in my opinion, is a true landmark in F&B scholarship.