Stylistic and Narrative Structures in the Middle English Romances

Paperback | October 1, 2014

bySusan Wittig

not yet rated|write a review

This volume provides a generic description, based on a formal analysis of narrative structures, of the Middle English noncyclic verse romances. As a group, these poems have long resisted generic definition and are traditionally considered to be a conglomerate of unrelated tales held together in a historical matrix of similar themes and characters. As single narratives, they are thought of as random collections of events loosely structured in chronological succession. Susan Wittig, however, offers evidence that the romances are carefully ordered (although not always consciously so) according to a series of formulaic patterns and that their structures serve as vehicles for certain essential cultural patterns and are important to the preservation of some community-held beliefs.

The analysis begins on a stylistic level, and the same theoretical principles applied to the linguistic formulas of the poems also serve as a model for the study of narrative structures. The author finds that there are laws that govern the creation, selection, and arrangement of narrative materials in the romance genre and that act to restrict innovation and control the narrative form.

The reasons for this strict control are to be found in the functional relationship of the genre to the culture that produced it. The deep structure of the romance is viewed as a problem-solving pattern that enables the community to mediate important contradictions within its social, economic, and mythic structures. Wittig speculates that these contradictions may lie in the social structures of kinship and marriage and that they have been restructured in the narratives in a “practical” myth: the concept of power gained through the marriage alliance, and the reconciliation of the contradictory notions of marriage for power’s sake and marriage for love’s sake.

This advanced, thorough, and completely original study will be valuable to medieval specialists, classicists, linguists, folklorists, and Biblical scholars working in oral-formulaic narrative structure.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$34.53

In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

This volume provides a generic description, based on a formal analysis of narrative structures, of the Middle English noncyclic verse romances. As a group, these poems have long resisted generic definition and are traditionally considered to be a conglomerate of unrelated tales held together in a historical matrix of similar themes and...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:October 1, 2014Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:029276653X

ISBN - 13:9780292766532

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of Stylistic and Narrative Structures in the Middle English Romances

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote to the readerIntroduction1. Problems of stylistic analysis in the Middle English romance2. Larger structural units: the motifeme3. Larger structural units: the type-scene4. Larger structural units: the type-episode5. Speculations and conclusionsNotesBibliographyIndex