Carol Symes

title.none: Mikhailova, Mouvances et Jointures (Carol Symes)

identifier.other: baj9928.0703.015 07.03.15

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Carol Symes, Uiversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Mikhailova, Milena. Mouvances et Jointues: Du manuscrit au texte medieval. Medievalia. Orleans: Editions Paradigme, 2005. Pp. 334. $49.95 2-86878-237-X. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.03.15

Mikhailova, Milena. Mouvances et Jointues: Du manuscrit au texte medieval. Medievalia. Orleans: Editions Paradigme, 2005. Pp. 334. $49.95 2-86878-237-X. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Carol Symes
Uiversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The essays presented in this volume were originally delivered as papers at an international colloquium convened at the University of Limoges in 2002, and they display a welcome coherence--which is a trifle ironic, considering that they deal with the fluidity, instability, and mobility of medieval manuscript culture. Individually and collectively, they help to advance the relatively new field of material philology, which constitutes a reaction against the heavy-handed editorial practices and critical paradigms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All owe a special and handsomely acknowledged debt to two Francophone scholars, Paul Zumthor and Bernard Cerquiglini; and all seek a better understanding of how "the material conditions of literary production"--the very processes of a text's inscription and use--were instrumental in shaping its narrative content, discursive registers, and potential meanings. How did authors, scribes, readers, and audiences participate in these acts of creation? Via what strategies did they harness or unleash the movement of the manuscripts they made and remade? Although the focus here is on texts transmitted in the langue d'oil, these questions concern medievalists working in any language and in all disciplines.

As Milena Mikhailova notes in her introduction, the variety of approaches to the challenges of textual variance do not submit easily to having an order imposed upon them. Yet she makes an attempt, dividing the volume into three sections. The first is devoted to "Insertions and Junctures," instances of fruitful division and juxtaposition within and between texts. This is also the theme of a prefatory essay by Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, "La cesure et le lien," which draws attention to the techniques of dividing and linking that constituted the basic methods of manuscript compilation and literary composition, outlining some of their broader aesthetic and artistic implications. Keith Busby offers a specific example in "Absence de l'image dans le ms. Montepellier, BIU, Sect. Med. H252," a discussion of the descriptive rubrics which tie together episodes from Chretien's Yvain and the Florimont of Aimon de Varennes in this fourteenth-century codex, showing how these devices illuminate modes of reception. Francois Laurent's "Entre le poeme et le roman" looks at a classic example of unity in diversity: the different poetic and narrative genres that make up Jean Renart's Guillaume de Dole, and their potential affects on the reader/audience. Mireille Demaules, in "Le miroir et la soudure immaterielle," argues that the scattered dream-sequences contained within the Lancelot- Grail cycle function as a type of welding device, linking together disparate texts and undergirding deeper relationships among the protagonists. And Donald Maddox draws attention to a single brief episode nested within a larger corpus of material, arguing that the Oxford Folie Tristan represents not only a mise en abyme of the romance as a whole, but a moment of "primordial oral ontology," a re-staging of the performative circumstances in which such tales were originally told, in an effort to recapture "the immediacy of a process of oral transmission." As he suggests, we do not need to wait for Boccaccio's Decameron in order to find a nostalgic evocation of the story-teller's art encased within the confines of a text.

The second section of the volume is devoted to "Textual Mobility, Textual Ductility," and the authors of these essays emphasize the infinite malleability of medieval--and even some modern--texts. Maureen Bolton describes the ways in which the open-ended vernacular Bible of Herman de Valenciennes lent itself to interpolation and adaptation over time, "admirably illustrating the mouvance of medieval texts" and highlighting the authorial roles of the copyists who augmented certain stories while preserving the integrity of others. Nancy Regalado draws attention to "Le Romant de la Rose moralise de Jean Molinet" and the fascinating after-life of an erotic thirteenth-century poem transfigured for the moral edification of a pre-Reformation readership, in manuscript and in print: this is an exemplary reconstruction of late-medieval reading practices and the mechanisms of adapting "the medieval" for "the modern." Jean-Jacques Vincensini explores "Impasses de la discontinuite et sens du chamarre" in the Roman de Melusine of Jean d'Arras, treating "irridescence" as a theme and a metaphor for the poem's shape-shifting effects. And Richard Trachsler ("Fatalement mouvantes") meditates on moments of "fatal mobility" in extended narratives, instances when the author--not the scribe--has nodded, introducing errors or inconsistencies which are then spotted and corrected by copyists. Paradoxically, he indicates, this means that the text closest to the author may be the most flawed, not the most faithful, and he wittily buttresses his argument with reference to discontinuities in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, as well as to the Lancelot-Grail cycle.

In the final section, "The Work and the Space of the Collection," contributors examine some notable manuscript compilations and their components. There are four essays devoted to the famous miscellany Paris, BnF fr. 837, all attempting to reconstruct its purposes and the compilers' principles of selection and organization. Yasmina Foehr- Janssens postulates that the Dit du Barisel, which opens the collection, also provides the key to unlocking its mysteries, constituting "a sort of implicit reading contract" which would have shaped a (diligent and systematic) reader's response. By contrast, Wagih Azzam focuses on "Un receuil dans le receuil," the collection of verses attributed to Rutebeuf and included in the larger anthology, arguing that this was the core around which all the other elements coalesced. Olivier Collet, for his part, asserts that the codex is actually anti-canonical in scope, akin to the work of Phillipe de Beaumanoir and a testament to the lively experimentation of "le laboratoire poetique" of northern France during the thirteenth century, especially evident in Arras. And Sylvie Lefevre attempts an ambitious analysis of the manuscript's entire contents in "Le recueil et l'Oeuvre unique," concentrating especially on the processes by which a lively performance tradition became a literary fossil, and once again pointing to the agency of Arras as a center for poetic innovation and documentation.

Turning to a different codex, the collection of plays contained in Paris, Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve 1131, Gabriella Parussa shows how the manuscript's compiler worked to bring a heterogeneous sampling of semi-scripted performance pieces to a new audience, one whose theatrical experience was now mediated through reading. Lori Walters dissects the process of "dismemberment and remembrance" which reshapes the oeuvre of Chretien de Troyes in Chantilly, Musee Conde 472, a manuscript reflecting the new ideologies of the thirteenth century and illustrating the perennial tensions between narrative flexibility and the fixity of parchment. Finally, Christopher Lucken's "Le poeme delivre," contrasts the personal anthology of Charles d'Orleans with the standard edition of the manuscript, revealing the process whereby modern conceptions of organizational coherence, which force the poems into an artificial narrative sequence, are fundamentally at odds with the (dis)organization of the autograph. Occupying the place of an explicit, it stands as a warning to all those who might think that Cerquiglini's arch-villain, the Procrustean philologist of old, has been laid to rest. On the contrary, we have only just begun to reject this particular Satan, and we still do not know the extent of all his works. More collective efforts like this one would be welcome.