The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of…

Paperback | March 4, 2008

byHelen Cooper

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The English Romance in Time is a study of English romance across the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It explores romance motifs - quests and fairy mistresses, passionate heroines and rudderless boats and missing heirs - from the first emergence of the genre in French and Anglo-Norman in thetwelfth century down to the early seventeenth. This is a continuous story, since the same romances that constituted the largest and most sophisticated body of secular fiction in the Middle Ages went on to enjoy a new and vibrant popularity at all social levels in black-letter prints as the pulpfiction of the Tudor age. This embedded culture was reworked for political and Reformation propaganda and for the 'writing of England', as well as providing a generous reservoir of good stories and dramatic plots. The different ways in which the same texts were read over several centuries, or thesame motifs shifted meaning as understanding and usage altered, provide a revealing and sensitive measure of historical and cultural change. The book accordingly looks at those processes of change as well as at how the motifs themselves work, to offer a historical semantics of the language ofromance conventions. It also looks at how politics and romance intersect - the point where romance comes true. The historicizing of the study of literature is belatedly leading to a wider recognition that the early modern world is built on medieval foundations. This book explores both the foundations and the building. Similarly, generic theory, which previously tended to operate on transhistoricalassumptions, is now acknowledging that genre interacts crucially with cultural context - with changing audiences and ideologies and means of dissemination. The generation into which Spenser and Shakespeare were born was the last to be brought up on a wide range of medieval romances in their originalforms, and they could therefore exploit their generic codings in new texts aimed at both elite and popular audiences. Romance may since then have lost much of its cultural centrality, but the universal appeal of these same stories has continued to fuel later works from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress toC.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

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The English Romance in Time is a study of English romance across the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It explores romance motifs - quests and fairy mistresses, passionate heroines and rudderless boats and missing heirs - from the first emergence of the genre in French and Anglo-Norman in thetwelfth century down to the early seventeenth...

Helen Cooper is Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:600 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.27 inPublished:March 4, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199532583

ISBN - 13:9780199532582

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Table of Contents

Introduction: 'Enter, pursued with a bear'1. Quest and Pilgrimage: 'The adventure that God shall send me'2. Providence and the Sea: 'No tackle, sail nor mast'3. Magic that Doesn't Work4. Fairy Monarch, Fairy Mistresses: 'I am of ane other countree'5. Desirable Desire: 'I am wholly given unto thee'6. Women on Trial7. Restoring the Rightful Heir: 'If that which was lost be not found'8. Unhappy Endings: 'The most accursed, unhappy, and evil fortuned'AppendixBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`impressive study . . . Cooper's learned but very readable volume is made even more useful by the well-organized appendix . . . in every section illuminating insights are offered into structural patterns and thematic variations, links between history and romance, and Early Modern responses tomedieval texts, along with many delightful snippets of esoteric information and well-turned phrases . . . Helen Cooper's range is impressively wide; she wears her learning lightly, and sprinkles her arguments with delightful asides.'Elizabeth Archibald, Times Literary Supplement