Doual'art is particularly looking for books on art history and contemporary visual art, architecture and urbanism, which are the fields of doual'art's actvities and research. Yes, we try to maintain the richest possible collection on African artists and creatives. We don't have any special channel for this. Artists and various researchers from Cameroon and abroad who have been invited by doual'art. We get our books in two ways: I wouldn't say we curate the library yet though we do have library highlights. Like we have something on Chinua Achebe at the moment.
Our focus is on contemporary art generally and African art geographically. Our users are mainly students under- and postgraduate as well as practicing artists and other independent researchers. We purchase books and we also receive them as 1. Nous achetons et recevons aussi des livres sous forme donations from institutions or artists. I wouldn't say it's a focus, but since we're based in Africa and strongly involved in promoting artistic practices in Africa, this means that most of our library collection naturally consists of books about Africa.
But our theoretical scope has a global outlook that includes artist books from all over the world, books on international exhibitions, art theory and history and photography. We receive notices and we also do a lot of our own research on the Web. Plus, we have a network of local and international friends and colleagues with whom we're regularly in touch. I started this artists' museum at the Rijksakademie in and I finished it at documenta 11, directed by Okwui Enwezor in Some of the books come from my personal library, others are donated by artists, curators and museums.
For example during documenta 11, many artists donated books and catalogues. Our library is made up of art books from all around the world. It is not specialised in African art or African authors. American or Chinese authors are just as welcome as long as they are talking about contemporary art.
Because it's good for us in Africa to get to learn from others as well! For the time being, that's not something we are concerned with because this library is based on donations of books. It was a success. It's a library open to anyone interested in art. Artists can come do research and read about art. A lot of art history students also use it. A professor offers a history course here to familiarise students with the art books. It's a library with an educational mission, above all. Artists from the city come and give training workshops at the library: Schoolchildren from the local district also visit it as well as art lovers in general.
Les artistes peuvent venir faire des recherches et lire sur l'art. The project was inspired by the life of Louis Destouches, a French colonial administrator who lived in the south of Cameroon from to In it, you'll find the letters that Louis Destouches sent to his parents and others from Douala, Campo, Bikobimbo and the island of Dipikar. I know that we are at the start of a long process. Making it a shared one from the get-go will be the first test. I wanted to write you to explain a bit more about my approach.
To continue with the scouting I started during my first visit to Douala, I began thinking of handing it over to a Cameroonian scriptor. This choice of words is in no way pejorative, I simply prefer to use it in place of the term author, as a reminder that we're all just webs of citations spun from multiple traditions. I'm very pleased that you readily agreed to be the scriptor.
I'd like to just briefly go over the terms of the assignment. Since it's not a matter of doing the scouting in the conventional way through pictures , but rather through words, granting poetic licence upfront is a way to avoid being restricted to working only with the actual locations revisited. You and I will then be able to unearth some of the important issues that this film project shouldn't circumvent. One of these will be to get away from a certain fixation, to escape the repetitive spiral of commentary by setting the images in motion. I'm thinking back to our first meeting.
My initial investigations revealed that the current exhibition gallery of the arts centre was once the city's first cinema: And this, in a city where sadly, there is now not a single movie theatre. These two histories are separated by a simple partition wall. For now, my plan could be expressed in a series of questions: Not literally, of course, but by and through the cinema.
What might a character named Louis be like if we were to conjure him through this magic trick? Hoping to hear from you soon, Vincent. Dear Louis, The deepest, most beautiful blue sky over Douala this morning. All my best, Franck Lagache. Dear Lagache, I suspected that my first letter would have narrative consequences. I take note of your character and I welcome "mine" without being quite sure what type of pact to forge with him: Or rather strategically retreat, migrate into footnotes and wisely let you drift towards the island of Dipikar?
I thank you for your deep blue. Here, a smokecoloured sky crisscrossed with lightning. More apocalyptic than paradisiacal. I think back to it. No cinema in Douala has ever matched it for the sheer, fantastical enchantment of the name,. Pour l'heure, mon programme pourrait donc se poser en forme de questions: Dans l'espoir de te lire sous peu, Vincent. Je vous remercie pour votre bleu profond. Plus apocalyptique que paradisiaque. This "fantasma" as the Italians and Spanish call phantoms or ghosts. Every movie theatre is a paradise devoted to "la fantomachia", spectrality.
These brief lines have convinced me to follow you, as is my first wish. I'll give you free rein, taking refuge in the margins, and accept the role of this other Louis. During my stay in Douala, I was able to film in his home, that is to say, in this former royal palace in tatters Surprised by the impoverishment, from the office to the bedroom. Perhaps you've encountered him on occasion? He, too, is a real character. Yet one who has never been able to leave. It was offered to him. I'm told that he was planning to leave the city but could never reconcile himself to it and was constantly postponing his return to France.
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Back to a farm in the country he had purchased long ago, where his children and grandchildren now live. A man who embodies the oxymoron of "re-becoming". How to re-become what one hasn't been for ages: One cannot "re-become", one can only become. The Nietzschean eternal return is not of the order of the repetition of the Same or the Identical, but on the contrary, the creation of the possibility for the same to return, different: Fighting against the reactive resentment and bad conscience to make room for the affirmation. I will leave you with your companion A.
Looking forward to hearing from you, Louis. I'm borrowing the phrase word for word, copyleft, you might say, from the Old Man who has run this country for a good 30 years, regularly changing acolytes. I got it from a green-red-yellow friend from my old days at the Sorbonne who's living and working there, Adrien Katika, alias Castor II, a computer engineer and environmental activist, a brilliant free electron. They don't make them like that anymore.
You would be stunned to see what Douala has become in the meantime. A massive metropolis that goes into gridlock seizure at rush-hour. The chorus of backfiring two-strokes produces a continuous background noise, as well as clouds of CO2 pollution. You should see them in traffic, threading their way right under the motorists' noses, darting into the slightest gap, impervious to danger! These days this "little native village" blithely hosts 4 million inhabitants. Not sorry to be here, km south of those doldrums where the children of Deicide flounder about in our oh-so-disenchanted post-modernity.
Europe is endlessly venting its spleen about the single currency, the political cohesion of the Union, and Growth and Employment, to anyone who wants to hear it. Black bile and Berlin imposing the pressure of budgetary rigour on other capitals. The gods of yore are out of breath and Profit unabashedly dictates its law to the States, with the blessing of the ratings agencies.
States are given ratings! They lose points, and the value of their sovereign debt plunges instantly on the markets. The world of High Finance decried by our earnest blue-white-red president simply carries on doing as it pleases, polishing its conscience with swashbuckling non-profit foundations. Or how humanitarianism becomes a money-laundering operation in broad daylight. Having been here only a week, I've been eating fresh fish every night and I can't get enough of it.
No worries when it comes to food. Sole, threadfin, longneck and bobo croaker. Especially on the grill. Accompanied by very ripe plantains fried in raw palm oil. I am seriously enjoying myself. And in the fruit section, it's quite simply the garden of the Hesperides! Between the pineapples, avocados, bananas, papayas, and mangoes, which are just coming into season, and so on, one is spoiled for choice in ways to delight the taste buds.
My enthusiasm is as acute as the change of scenery: Surprising as it may seem, it's on a medical prescription that I have come to this side of the world. After attentively listening to my ranting, my therapist asked me if I'd ever visited and stayed in Africa. The answer turned out to be no. I can still see him appraising me from his armchair, his compassion laced with a mischievous smile, strongly recommending that I jump on the next plane to Cameroon.
Assuring me that this subSaharan getaway would be better than any pills. Provided that I'd avoid following the beaten paths tramped by the local Whites who prefer to travel in herds and are here on business, to get filthy rich, grabbing cash for their retirement in temperate climes. I am pleased to have followed his advice to the letter so far. Here, my Euclidean and Cartesian training is constantly undermined, assaulted by reality, at all levels.
As is the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction, the cornerstone of knowledge from the Enlightenment with which our Western culture drapes itself so very smugly. Here, the shortest route from one point to another is not necessarily the canonical, linear laws of classical geometry. Oh yes, it does seem a paradox! Whether in artistic terms or otherwise, in my initial estimation, blurred lines seem to be the norm in this country that is said to be poor and heavily indebted in the jargon of the World Bank, that pseudogood fairy whose macroeconomic prescriptions riddled with monetarism have, in the twilight of the last century, indefinitely plunged the civil servants and, consequently, the Cameroonian people, into a suffocating and vertiginous insecurity.
They call it "structural adjustment", the same thing that contemporary Greece is struggling with, sparking serial suicides in the land of Socrates. And when will it be France's turn to be declared in recession by licensed experts? Lionel Manga and Vincent Meessen un nom aussi enchanteur et fantasmatique que celui du Paradis.
Un de ceux qui n'ont jamais pu repartir. Comment redevenir ce qu'on est plus depuis perpette: Je te laisse avec ton compagnon A. Dans l'attente de te lire, Louis. Vous seriez ahuri de voir ce que Douala est devenu entre temps. On note les Etats! Bar, sole, capitaine, bossu. Il se trouvait alors que non. Cela semble bel et bien paradoxal! Dear Narrator, Thanks for your note. It reminds me that it would be useful to share the results of my investigations. If I didn't disclose some of the information gathered, it's on the one hand because I could not foresee certain crossroads at which we now find ourselves.
But also because your first letters form a part of my return trip. So here I am, having boarded your story and effectively engaged in a parallel journey. More and more I am liking this idea that we are both passengers on a journey that the other is making on his "behalf". No sooner have I typed it, than rereading this sentence, it strikes me that its full ambiguity is apparently the very thing that will soon concern us. In the context of our collaboration, location scouting for the sake of developing a script, perhaps we should allow ourselves wrong turns and rewrites?
This "we" should be understood as a constantly widening community: All those who have been inked-in become characters. Here, they are included in the story but may also become forces acting within it. And all who have been summoned for the journey speak to us not only in the past, but they have "prehended" our present.
Otherwise we'd no longer be talking about them. How to forge a path beyond the great colonial night if not through a dual motion: Will there be a possibility for forms of critical positivities in the action of "plotting"? The results of my research which might have proved useful for writing your last letter, inspires this one. In this sense, writing is never more than rewriting. What may at first seem trivial is sometimes the beginning of a path, a bifurcation which proves beneficial to the project. In fact, the building that holds the hard-core of the GMI was the focus of all my attention as soon as I arrived in Douala.
By a rather disturbing coincidence, this building houses not only the cultural administration that has the authority to issue permits for filming motion pictures, but also, and above all, it once housed the colonial hospital. The nerve centre where the future doctor Louis Destouches was hospitalised before his repatriation to France. Under the guidance of Castor II, I've gradually made a religion, bold words for an atheist, of Kamer as they call it here, short for Cameroon, where the postcolonial sequence decisively took off around with the independence inscribed on the first of January, its preamble having been written in Douala in May , in blood, following a fatal road accident involving a white driver running down an indigenous man.
That makes it 13 years before our own May, that of the baby-boom youth and the thirst for emancipation at every level of life, heirs to the "never again", to the spectre of Auschwitz and a guilty conscience. The rest of the story can be summed up concisely: With the blessing of our General and the mysterious Jacques Foccart having free rein to preserve French interests at any price. I know that now. My marvellous friend comes from a historic hometown: A great uncle of Castor II's was a member of his famous mobile teams.
His method of intervention thoroughly revolutionised preventive medicine and he died, thrust into disgrace, actually, this noble Jamot, paying dearly for the dramatic blunder of a worker in charge of prescriptions at a health station in his absence who got the dosage wrong. So you see, the Whites in black Africa are not all villains like Joseph Conrad's Kurtz, lawless and amoral, driven exclusively by Lucre.
It's very comforting, believe me, not having to don the iron frockcoat of guilt by proxy! My half-masted libido of Paris has found its fibre here. I was starting to get worried. A quasi-celibacy had gradually taken hold of me in this liberated society where to brush against a woman counts as harassment within the legal system and is consequently punishable. Men from here think this is a hilarious joke, as they feel up the girls every which way and straightforwardly charm them in suggestive terms. Who see it as a sign of interest and don't complain in the least. I have yet to see a guy dished out a sharp slap as happens back home to some unfortunate fellows.
There is such variety and much to whet the appetite in this profusion of boobalicious bodies. Edith, a buxom cabaret dancer champing at the bit as I put her through her paces, profoundly reconciled in me the burning bush with a verb as filthy-minded as it is promising: I haven't had a hard-on like that since I don't know when, nor fired off so many rounds in a single night.
Between the mangrove and the macadam, welcome to sex without complex, the raw stuff, copulation in its essence, bathed in exhilarating carnal aromas! All the best, F. Cher Narrateur, Merci pour cette missive. Mais aussi parce que tes premiers courriers constituent une partie de mon voyage de retour. Sinon nous ne parlerions plus d'eux. Une question se pose ici: Comment frayer un chemin hors de la grande nuit coloniale sinon par un double mouvement: By an even more disturbing coincidence, while I was filming in this building, in a darkened backroom, I discovered three rusted boxes stacked on top of each other.
Inside, rolls of 35mm film. The title was printed on the label: I would rather have stumbled upon a vintage copy of the film that popularised Jamot's proto-humanitarian work. Armed with microscopes, we see them assisting infected patients who look like bewitched zombies. The black bodies of the sick are marked with a white crayon.
Thus, those contaminated bear a simple letter S for Sleeping. Hard not to make a connection between the future Doctor Destouches and his militant hygienism, and this other Doctor, both produced by the age of Pasteur with its revolutionary discovery of "invisible agents". Microbiological agents that at this time already formed a fantasmatic source infiltrating — through cinematographical ideas and propaganda — the body of an afflicted nation. The colonies, this was the testing ground that might one day make it possible to heal, to revive, the French national body Knowing we are moving towards each other, I hope I haven't led you astray with this letter and imagine you must have set course for Campo.
Hope to hear from you soon, L. Dear Louis, By chance yesterday afternoon I witnessed a minor but hardly mundane incident that speaks volumes about the outstanding balances and the silence on all registers in the historical field here. With a white beard and a thick necklace, a determined and luminous gaze, sporting a hat in the national colours and armed with a sledgehammer, a political activist known to the law enforcement authorities and the riot police had a go at a vestige of French colonisation, the memorial erected in honour of Leclerc de Hautecloque in front of the Post Office in Bonanjo.
The celebrated leader of the legendary 2nd DB1 poses there like a perfect gentleman of war, leaning casually on a cane, before a mural depicting, in bas-relief, the epic record of his unit, from the draft of black troops in AEF2 to the victorious entry into Paris, via the Sahara. Le Combattant, according to his public nickname, couldn't keep away, and didn't hesitate to join the forces of the GMI3 out and about in a battered pick-up. In this urban context, it's like a lush oasis in the desert. The old mango tree that stands there covered with moss and epiphytes holds its own in the shadow of the nonagenarian Palace of Justice, the seat of the Littoral Court of Appeals, a microclimate that affords a serenity in which conversations blossom between laughter and exclamations.
She's on good terms with my acolyte and brings him natural fruit juices made in her small production unit. Appreciated equally by drop-ins and A-listers at the openings, widening the circle. I have never encountered such a voluble biped. Adrien is on familiar ground in Bonanjo and in this enclave. He still remembers the colorised black and white images. Back then, there was a Printania in Bonanjo and a Monoprix in Akwa.
His father was the Commissaire Central, the powerful boss of the police. The white, lobed flowers of the frangipanis in the rue Ivy would scent the air and yellow butterflies would flit about in the shower of photons. The Belgian Congo monopolised the newspaper headlines.
After Tintin, Milou and the zany Capitaine Haddock, there was Zorro with his cape and whip, perched on his white steed. The happy few would shut themselves in after nightfall. Armoured Division 2 Ed. French Equatorial Africa 3 Ed. Le poula-poula4 peu curieux reste prudemment au large de ce havre. Tintin et les oranges bleues.
Le Congo belge monopolisait les unes des journaux. Du feu et du sang. Dear Franck, Your friend A. It's something that stays with you for life, like old loves. One of my previous films got me interested in the education of African elites during the colonial era. I learned quite a bit first-hand from several dozen former high-ranking officers who attended the colonial military schools. Most of them fought for France, in Algeria, in Indochina You've probably heard of the scandal of the tens of thousands of veterans whose pensions were permanently frozen in The irony of history is that it was only after the 50th anniversary of the Independences, the natural deaths of many veterans, and Sarkozy, the man who invited the Africans to enter History, that the process the French dubbed the "unfreezing" could finally take place.
What would Marshal Leclerc, whose predominantly African troops liberated French Equatorial Africa, have thought of this? I'm pleased to be able to send you some pictures of the statue of Leclerc prior to the assault that you witnessed. Rereading the highly lyrical "What to do with the colonial statues and monuments" published by the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe1 in a Douala newspaper in would help to understand the motivation and the necessity of dismantling colonial monuments. Mbembe describes them as "the spectacular expression of the power of destruction and thievery that drove the colonial project"1.
He concludes by suggesting that all of the colonial statues of Africa be brought together into a single theme park and never again to erect any statue glorifying anyone whatsoever, potentate or not. Till next time, L. Online on the Africultures website. Le Monde, le Figaro and others. Passenger liners providing a regular maritime connection between France and Africa still made port at Douala then. His usual tightrope walker's nerves of steel stumble when he mentions a certain Solange.
His "old girlfriend" of long ago times at the French school Dominique Savio they attended. A platonic bond never again regained. She'd got her driving licence before he did, and never let him forget it. He remembered their long Sunday strolls flanked by Hector and Flora, an intimidating pair of German Shepherds, tenderly arm in arm. It was the birth of Makossa, and Ekambi Brillant, ignited by James Brown, was just breaking through on the local popular music scene.
As innocent teens, they didn't worry about what lay behind their peaceful daily lives. A heavy lead blanket weighed upon the country under the flag of Ahmadou Ahidjo, skipper of the single-party state. In , a foul generalised cancer took his So to her death. A talented translator, married to a Rwandan and the mother of two daughters, over the years she had become his confidant. Topping the list of his "immortal beloveds", born on the first of January in the same year as he was, he misses her more than words can say when he longs to unburden his heavy heart. Dear Louis, I wonder, what destiny did your parents imagine for their offspring when they named you Louis?
Given the tragic fate of the royal number XVI, whose blue blood flowed, the question may well be warranted. It occurred to me on the road, in this intercity transport coach humming at a brisk pace towards the sea. Chills above dark water, beneath an azure sky. I can assure you that the descendants of the Negroes, once unaware of the value of money, are by contrast perfectly liberated today and won't be tricked just like that.
They have a colourful expression, "five francs doesn't go looking for its brother". Who can top that? Is it an addiction, this collective inclination that treats the common good as a dangerous illusion?
This stinginess of our so-called fellow men can be terrifying at times… Goethe said that in a journey, it's not where we are going that counts but rather what happens on the way. Public tolls chop the traffic arteries into sections. As soon as the driver slows at the toll barrier's coming into view and joins the waiting queue, a swarm of vendors overtakes the bus, plying the passengers with all manner of food and drink.
Colourful sodas, bags of ice water, roasted peanuts, corn, plantain chips, coconuts, brochettes, meatballs and other local specialties. Some sales are made. Miserable hovels and spectacular residences dot the landscape, between concrete and dirt floors,. Cher Franck, Ton ami A. C'est pour la vie, comme les amours. A te lire, L. En ligne sur le site d'Africultures. Elle avait obtenu le permis de conduire avant lui et en faisait des gorges chaudes. Certains se laisseront tenter. The huge pylons carrying high-voltage power and the mobile telephone relay antennas compete with the tall trees.
The notion of Progress is as deeply embedded in the landscape as the Crucifix. While back home, religious fervour hasn't been in fashion for a long time, it's in full swing on Sundays in this country where Catholics and Protestants are in the majority. God is legit and can hide a world of sins. Adapted to suit all ends, from black to yellow, He takes the place of comprehensive insurance. What's more, faith gets on very well with fatalism and they feed one another in this relationship which at times eclipses reason.
He didn't want to become a certified, lacquered mascot in the spiritual service of the nuclear and extended family, professor of blessings and an ideal channel for divine graces. He definitely didn't see himself in a cassock, my leftist brother Best regards, Franck Lagache. The "smoldering years" refer to the protests in the early s that led to a change in the constitution. Dear Franck, From one Goethe to another, from letter to letter, you too make astonishing journeys.
This second Goethe connects "foto" and "foot". I can't help but be reminded of my first trip to Cameroon, 20 years ago. Fresh from school, I accepted a plane ticket to go and take some pictures of the Indomitable Lions1 who were by then running out of steam. It was in the Roger Milla days, as coach and no longer as player. Twenty years have passed and memory of this set-up is as vivid as ever: No possible way to work. I later learned what was really behind my plane ticket, a BelgianLuxembourgish neocolonial who had supposedly purchased the rights to the images of the Lions.
It makes a fine fable of intangible neocolonialism in which I played the role of fall-guy. The bosses of the Cameroonian Federation were obviously not inclined — and rightly so — to let some greenhorn encroach on their territory. I can still see myself: Add some fire eaters, and green-yellow-red all over the place and you'll have the full effect.
Looking forward to reading your account of the "journey" to Campo, L. Two popular passions rule this country, and they're naturally compatible: Dreams of glory and money fed by the universal sportscast. It was actually a photographer, originally from Sierra-Leone, who introduced football here in , Georges Goethe. Seventeen years later, a thriving French group that had already expanded into Indochina set up the first brewery.
In the ensuing decades, the industry prospered, with two major players carving up the market, producing an estimated 5 million hectolitres between them: No need for the Tsetse fly, then, to efficiently numb the masses to sleep. My puckish friend has another way of putting it: It's a harsh image, uncompromising and high-definition, scathing as a flamethrower. He's got a penchant for reggae and weed, this A. Just what the doctor ordered, really, for a biped from the North looking to decompress, reboot, and reset. Seeking redemption in the South? I keep up with my loved ones and with European news in virtual real-time thanks to the array of tools, the fruits of technological innovation that compress geographical distance into a figment of the imagination.
What an age we live in! Homesickness is not what it used to be. Dear Louis, It's impossible to get to Campo in one go. Mechanical issues with the Toyota pick-up. Never mind, things being as they are, we're going to stay in Kribi until tomorrow morning. An afternoon and a night to kill. Like everyone else, we'll take motorcycles to get there and back. The city is pint-sized. With a backdrop of dense forest, it faces the sea. The perfect tourist snapshot. Dieu a pignon sur rue, et bon dos. Cela ne peut que me rappeler mon premier voyage au Cameroun, il y a vingt ans.
Je me reverrai encore longtemps: Pas besoin donc de la glossine pour endormir efficacement les masses. On prendra comme tout le monde des motos pour aller et venir. Franck, "There's nothing terrible inside us or on earth or possibly in heaven itself except what hasn't been said yet. We won't be easy in our minds until everything has been said once and for all, then we'll fall silent and we'll no longer be afraid of keeping still. That will be the day. If the reader of our exchanges has made it this far, it is because he has understood that what is at stake in this dialogue goes beyond the scriptors and the various systems of articulation we have resorted to.
Behind our "intergloss" and the aspect inherent to all writing, there are always "voices". It is their vibration that we seek to recapture. This requires a dramaturgy of the word. It will one day be voiced in a cinematographic format, if an actor is able to become this vibratory body. Who is willing to lose control of himself so as, ultimately, the better to possess us? This relationship to orality is doubly important. Because in another paradox, the first film-maker who planned to adapt "Journey to the end of Night" for the cinema was one of the masters of silent film.
The sun is relentless. Feels like flames licking my skin. We cast our sights on the box of a young woman whose smile sparkles a bit more warmly than her competitors'. We sit at a table with a view of the natural harbour of the port. There is no activity to speak of. Ragged kids perched on the stern of a stranded barge play at fishing. A few pirogues at anchor bob gently on the water. Port is not quite the word for it, between you and me. Picture a pocketsized quay and installations to match. Not a single "decrepit freighter" docks here anymore, according to A.
His little Guigui1 is not properly chilled and he groans. Certainly more as a joke than anything else. Still, the warm dark beer is not really quite the thing, you know. In general the atmosphere is friendly. Trinket sellers stroll by, hawking their cheap junk. I suddenly imagine the suave Corto Maltese in this setting, running around with a totally out-there Bocca Dorada on his arm, haughty, sensual, an endless cigarillo delicately clenched between her lips. A torrential flow in the service of an incendiary imagination. I savour this French language oiled with a high-definition lyricism and amplified by improbable shifts in meaning.
The readers I occasionally meet in Paris will not be disappointed. A rare gem to be shared and made widely known. This amazing, abundant work deserves it. Africans produce a rich literature yet only a few enlightened aficionados are aware of it. Big hungry bipeds, we made just a snack of the mound of crustaceans. Now the day has been ousted by the night and the sky is studded with stars. The hostel where we'll spend the night is not what it was when A. He is moved by the advanced state of disrepair of this public institution. A room with two separate beds for 12, francs is a deal in Kribi.
The rusty, dust-choked air conditioner produces a thin breath of cool air. Orange glimmers pierce the darkness at sea. Sitting side-by-side on a plain bench, facing the roaring surf, silently, we commune in the timeless beauty of the Earth. Abel Gance3 as soon as he returned from Cameroon. Gance purchased the rights from the publisher.
He abandoned the project a year later as an impossible challenge. He was followed in this attempt to adapt the Journey by other illustrious names: I've stolen all its effects! All of its pretentious melodrama! All its phony feeling! I've captured all the emotion! Dear Louis, On this side of the world, there is a life force in the face of constant adversity that never ceases to bowl me over. This force is also a capacity for endurance that builds character in the present, and perhaps also the foundation for the future. However, the violence of the asymmetries holds the potential for explosion.
Clearly, everyone knows it, is aware of it, and are crossing their fingers. The conspiracy is collective and conservatism is certainly taking convenient advantage of this. The dike of inhibition for now is still intact. The cracks of February were quickly sealed. A swift injection of the BIR2 did the trick. Where will the next one be, and what will it be made of? We've been able to get back on the road to Campo, with buoyant hearts, the mechanic having assured us that the road has been freshly levelled smooth.
The ribbon of laterite alongside the sea, following the contours of the coastal relief, momentarily lapses and then resurges, edged with ageing coconut palms, hidden by dense undergrowth that forms a bushy screen. I feel myself lifted with unimaginable weightlessness, floating on a Breton beach undiscovered by the summer hordes.
See Albert Pauphilet, ed. Her lady, however, cannot believe that such an excellent knight could possibly be Keu. Considering the character of the woman with whom Gauvain will soon fall in love, the humor inherent in his assumption of that identity is redoubled when we learn, as we soon will, that of all the knights at court Keu is the one most unlucky in love.
LACY over heels in love with her vss. Readers already familiar with Gauvain doubtless expect him to be easily infatuated and attracted to any pretty face, but the author here plays on those inclinations by exaggerating them hugely and remaking his character, however briefly, into the very epitome of the courtly lover. This would surely be a remarkable passage in regard to most knights; it is positively astonishing when the hopelessly smitten man is Gauvain.
Here, comically, as if he were an adolescent experiencing his first infatuation, he transforms his emotion into a profound and blissful romantic love. He accordingly transforms this woman into the lady of his dreams. Unfortunately, he will learn all too soon that the lady is a tramp. After spending the night with her, his love for her, we are told, is six times that of the preceding day vss. The episode in question is a setting of the famous chastity test involving the ill-fitting mantle. The placement of the recounted episode cannot be an accident.
See Le Chevalier au lion Yvain , ed. Mario Roques Paris: Champion, , vss. Clearly, in his mind, Ydain is no ordinary woman. Having fallen in love with her, he attributes to her the qualities he would desire in a woman; foremost among them is constancy. The couple pass a man who is urinating beside the road. But in fact, given what is about to occur, there can be little doubt that she has indeed seen it and has moreover found it most impressive. Thus, when the man claims her as his own and Gauvain, confident that she is as devoted to him as he is to her, proposes that she choose between them, she chooses the other man without hesitation vss.
When she sends her newfound lover back for her dogs vss. Now, disillusioned with love, he reverts to his customary concern for his honor; the woman is less important to him than is his commitment to fight over her. LACY like Ydain, be allowed to choose. His victory in this battle for the dogs causes the faithless Ydain to lose interest in the other man, and she contends, rather lamely, that she was only testing Gauvain and that she loves him more than ever.
But Gauvain is no fool — or, more precisely, no longer a fool. In scene after scene of this work, the author has made effective use of familiar characters Gauvain, Keu, and others placed often in humorous situations. There is also the burlesque reflection of the Grail Castle and its procession, the recollection of the sword in the stone episode, and various customs that are familiar to us but irksome to Gauvain. There is a chastity test, narrated through a secondary account. There is even, for good measure, an account of the White Stag, from Erec and elsewhere; here, though, it is hunted not as some element of an important social ritual, nor in order to maintain custom, as in Erec.
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Instead, its purpose is simply — and by now unsurprisingly — to provide food. Raoul is systematically accumulating and manipulating familiar motifs, exaggerating them, often inverting them in amusing fashion. Most of all, he plays on the character of Gauvain. Already at that early date perhaps c. The audience could thus be expected to recognize in him the figure of a knight always eager to seek adventure and never able to resist distraction from it. And having recognized him, that audience could scarcely have missed the humor inherent in the presentation of Gauvain, the Arthurian Don Juan, as smitten and devoted lover.
To the objection that most of the romance is composed of apparent digressions and miscellaneous episodes, I would respond that those episodes contribute materially and quite uniformly to the exposition of character, the development of theme, and the generation of humor. See R. Johnston and R. Owen, eds. Schmolke-Hasselmann assigns it to the period —30 p. The narrator of the Raguidel knows his romance tradition well and mines it thoroughly, with reverence reserved for virtually no part of it.
The resultant creation must surely be counted as one of the most fascinating and innovative of the French Gauvain romances. Thomas E. Vesce, vol. Jahrhunderts, ed. Foerster and H. Fordham University, Brill, Schmolke-Hasselmann, p. Del roi Artu et de ses houmes Est cis roumans que nous lisoumes. Si est tels chevaliers le roi, U plus ot sens et mains desroi. Mauvaise terre a en Irlande, A cent diables le commande Mil fois ains que li vespres viegne. Mais de ceste terre me di! Encor ai jou une tel poille Qui orains fu rostie a poivre; Jel vos donra et vin a boivre Et une piece de fouace.
Miex vos ferai, que jou ne face Les autres, por la ramembrance Que jou vos vi en vostre enfance. Tant le desacent et detirent Que des armes le deviestirent Et a Gaudionet le rendent. Toutefois comme le note Margaret Winters p. Cil fu autres, u ersoir mes, Que une canbre mirolee. Kai explose. Tactique intelligent mais inattendue. Jehan a su introduire le comique dans sa conception du monde arthurien, et son roman est satirique autant que chevaleresque.
To redress the balance, this essay sets out to demonstrate that humour contributes to the meaning of the Roman de Silence. This intertexual humour is accompanied, moreover, by intergeneric play. In this essay the analysis of intertextual and intergeneric comedy will be supported by a more traditional exploration of the verbal, structural and situational humour which is found at every level of the narrative. Repetition, exaggeration, incongruity and the breaking of taboos are all techniques exploited by Heldris to amuse his audience.
Finally, we shall consider whether the 1 2 3 See, for example, the articles in Arthuriana 7, a special issue dedicated to the Roman de Silence in Roche-Mahdi East Lansing, , p. See E. When Lewis Thorpe published his editio princeps of the Roman de Silence in book form in he called it a thirteenth-century Arthurian verse romance.
Heldris also drew on Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace in constructing an Arthurian pedigree for Silence, who claims to be a descendant of Gorlois of Cornwall line This too is un-Arthurian, since the Arthurian romance remains throughout its history a romance of chivalry and must therefore inevitably revolve around a male hero. Thorpe Cambridge, , first published in Nottingham Medieval Studies 5—8 —64 and 10—11 — Since the romance has survived in only one manuscript, there is no discrepancy between line numbers in any published edition or translation of the text.
See B. The English quotation is taken from B. Margaret and Roger Middleton Cambridge, , p. Parallels have already been noted between the courtship of Cador and Eufemie and the legend of Tristan. Thus Cador is invited to name his bride as a reward for killing a marauding dragon, while Eufemie is granted a similar marital privilege after curing Cador. In this way, Heldris presents her as a less passive potential prize than Soredamors. See Roche-Mahdi, Silence, p. Frappier Grundriss, III, —74, p.
See H. Davies and A. Kennedy Cambridge, , pp. There is irony in their mutual yet undeclared love and in their rhetorically elaborate ratiocinations which lead to passivity rather than action. Je non. Comant dons? Dex, ja est la parole bele Et tant dolce ami a nomer! Not I. How then? Call him by his name! Oh God, the word is already wonderful and it is so sweet to call him ami. If only I dared to call him ami. She feared he had said something quite different. The lovers seal their declaration with a feudal kiss, its description comprising litotes lines — , mock discretion lines —6 , exaggeration line and a jocular comparison to a very pleasant meal lines — Meanwhile, King Ebain is presented as sharing the same doubts which afflicted the lovers.
For, keen that the couple should marry to solve an inheritance problem of his own making, the king believes erroneously that he will need to put pressure on his nephew and Eufemie to marry each other lines — Yet it is the king who ends up being the butt of the only deliberate joke when the count dupes him into thinking that it was hard work convincing the lovers to accept each other in marriage lines —4.
Their inability to express sexual desire is transposed in her story onto the paternal prohibition against expressing her natural female sexuality in return for the cultural benefits of inheriting wealth as a male lines —, It is appropriate, therefore, that a man who fears to express his love and a woman whose name invokes euphemistic verbal indirectness should give birth to a child called Silence. He is also a boy brought up by his mother in ignorance of masculine pursuits. He may still become a worthy knight.
Thus nature the forest, the wild, the body, natural activities is gendered feminine through association with the mother, while culture the court, chivalry, the church, the mind, cultural activities is gendered masculine through association with King Arthur, knights and clerics. Yet nature, in the sense of innate characteristics or genetic destiny, and defined in opposition to nurture, is gendered according to biological sex; thus Perceval, with his masculine, aristocratic nature is destined, despite his feminine nurturing, to become cultured, civilised, a knight.
His male nature obliges him to leave the maternal imaginary and enter the paternal symbolic order, with its emphasis on language. Whereas the forest is gendered feminine in Perceval, it is masculine in the Roman de Silence. Silence, once weaned, is nurtured away from court society in the forest by a nurse, supervised by a seneschal and Cador lines ff.
Their aim is to gender her masculine by teaching her all the skills required by male nobles. She is brought up against her nature to adopt masculine culture, 20 S. MacCormack and M. Strathern Cambridge, , pp. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere Stanford, , pp. However, her true female nature, expressed through her body and sexuality, will out in the end, and is finally revealed when she captures Merlin. For only biological females can catch Merlin. In fulfilling her female nature she must abandon the cultural roles of knight and jongleur which she performs expertly while masquerading as a man. The conflict within her is made explicit in the speeches given to the two allegorical figures nature and norreture.
In Old French, the common noun silence is masculine, but derives from the Latin neuter noun silentium though the form silentia existed in Medieval Latin too. It is certainly true that narrative inconsistencies reveal authorial unease about serious gender issues. Jo cuidai Merlin engignier, 27 Unlike P. Forlignier Cuidai a tols jors us de feme. I thought to deceive Merlin, but I have deceived myself.
El a en tine que ferine: Il est desos les dras mescine. All that is visible is completely masculine, [but] he has something else in his barrel than flour: under his clothing he is a girl. Morawski Paris, , no. Silence is again the object of sexual humour just as she reaches the heights of chivalric success.
More serious though, to my mind, has been the violence done to the text by the translation attempts of modern critics. Yet Roche-Mahdi Silence, p. I have therefore employed feminine pronouns in my translation. Besides, she shares many positive characteristics with the enterprising but nevertheless feminine Nicolette. Silence is thus both a comic inversion of the traditional male chivalric hero and a more serious epitome of the ingenious heroine who disguises herself as a jongleur, travels extensively and defeats her opponents by force of intellect and verbal dexterity.
The most obvious parallel between the two works is the linking of the themes of speech and pleasure, or rather female silence and male pleasure. This explains his prohibition on her speech and the suspension of conjugal relations during their adventures. Jones and R. Wisbey Cambridge, , pp. Heldris, on the other hand, shows that ultimately this silence, being unnatural, has to be broken.
Faites de moi vostre plaisir. Do with me what you will. Self control or denial is expressed by the term abstinence lines , , Both texts agree that silence is not always golden. Taon Comp. Tobler and E. Paris, and Berengier au lonc cul is in many ways as humorously unnatural as Silence, and both show that appearances created by females can be deceptive.
Alcuin Blamires with Karen Pratt and C. Marx Oxford, , p. This type of evidence is problematic though, first because the folios on which Silence appears may not originally have been bound with the rest of the texts, and second, because medieval works could be copied together not to create a thematically coherent whole, but to produce a varied anthology for the owner of the codex. Laughter is enhanced by the breaking of taboos.
Cohen and B. Wheeler New York, , pp. I am grateful to Dr Putter for his useful questions and comments on an earlier version of this paper delivered at the International Arthurian Society Congress in Toulouse Psaki, Silence, pp. Econduit ici, Guerrehet poursuit son chemin et va tenter sa chance ailleurs.
IV, pp. Cette remarque est un leitmotiv du roman. En bonne logique arthurienne, elles devraient lui tomber dans les bras. Et je sui. Lancelot en prose, IV, p. Nykrog, Les Fabliaux. Noomen et N. Micha, tome IX, p. Certes trop fustes hardie, qui vostre lecherie feistes devant moi. Harper-Bill et R. Harvey Woodbridge, Boydell Press, , pp.
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Bertrand Paris, Champion, , p. Bertrand, op. Genette dans Palimpsestes. Lancelot, alors tout jeune chevalier, veut absolument voir la belle jeune fille du 36 37 38 39 pavillon, et, pour cela, combattre le grand chevalier qui la garde. Tome IV, pp. Tome V, pp. Tome VI, p. Jean Frappier dates the composition of the Vulgate Cycle between and and describes it as a process of composition and growth, under the supervision of an architect.
He compares it to the building of a cathedral. Special thanks to Martine Meuwese, who consulted her database and kindly provided a more reliable date for many of the manuscripts see also the Appendix. Kennedy, 2 vols. Sommer, 7 vols. CIII, 5, le roi de France qui est mort. The chronological diagram in the appendix shows that, in fact, one of the oldest manuscripts — Rennes — already has the Estoire dou Saint Graal and Estoire de Merlin, which are generally considered later additions.
Continuing along this line of reasoning, which works from the assumption that the manuscript tradition as a whole is representative of the different configurations in which the texts functioned and were transmitted, Diagram 2 in the Appendix was made. It gives the same manuscripts, but now in a sequence based on what they contain. The sequence works from the Lancelot onwards and ends with the manuscripts of the full cycle. It is noteworthy that there are at least thirty-eight manuscripts which contain only sections of the Lancelot.
There is the possibility that the first part of the Lancelot existed separately and formed a separate unit in the formation of the Lancelot tale. For this cycle, sometimes called Didot-Perceval or Perceval en prose, see P. Loomis Oxford, , pp. Jauss, E. Frappier, vol. For Rennes , see A. Six manuscripts stop at a point corresponding with the exact beginning of S V: this is where a division would lie if a manuscript containing the trilogy were divided solely on the basis of numbers of folia into two volumes see F.
Lot, Etude sur le Lancelot en prose, 3rd edn Paris, , pp. These six manuscripts perhaps were the first volumes in two-volume sets containing the trilogy and thus lose their strength as arguments for a separate Lancelot. The rewritten version of these episodes leads into the prose Charrette. It contains a number of new elements.
Three manuscripts give just this text — one of them Paris, BN is the oldest preserved prose Lancelot manuscript according to Kennedy — and twelve more manuscripts first follow the non-cyclic version and then transfer to the cyclic Kennedy, Lancelot and the Grail, p. Micha Essais, p. Kennedy, Lancelot and the Grail, discusses the Grail allusions in a separate chapter pp.
The discussion, although somewhat abated, has not come to a completely convincing conclusion yet and perhaps it never will. Diagram 2 in the appendix shows that there seems to be a kind of compositional borderline or watershed after the Charrette. This is the arithmetically justified point where a new volume starts in a number of two-volume manuscripts of the trilogy and three-volume manuscripts of the whole cycle. BN 98, BN , by means of an initial e. Amsterdam BPH 1 vol. Oxford, Bodl.
Exceptions are discussed above. Diagram 2 in the Appendix. The beginning of the Queste is marked in a similar way in this manuscript, whereas the beginnings of the Charrette et cetera are more subdued. In BN , most of f. My arguments will be derived first from the manuscript tradition and then from the contents of the story. None of the preserved manuscripts begins or ends at this point and that makes it less likely that a clearly defined and recognized new section began here. The manuscript does not end here on purpose, but no doubt suffered an accidental loss of leaves.
Lot, Etude, pp. Tournoy and W. Verbeke Leuven, , pp. The first is a manuscript Micha did not describe. This seems remarkable, but a look at the context shows that in this manuscript each new paragraph of the interlaced story is indicated by a similar initial. There is no indication whatsoever that a big new section of the tale begins here. The end of the Charrette, however, is signalled by two miniatures and the first of them is a large one giving two scenes , which make this boundary jump right off the page.
In BN , the relevant volume of the cycle BN —, the chapters in the interlace structure are generally indicated by an initial six lines high , but there also are quite large miniatures. The final episode of the Charrette F. Arsenal — has in volume a nine-line initial at the beginning p. The Amsterdam BPH 1 manuscript, for instance, also uses the phrase quite indiscriminately, also at places where no larger unit could be indicated ff.
In some the framework of the interlace seems almost disconnected from the illumination; in the Charrette this framework itself shows many different forms, due to textual variants and other factors, which require further research. The variance in some cases is due to a phenomenon also encountered in Middle Dutch romances in the Lancelot Compilation: the text gives a formal switch but there is no actual change from one narrative thread to another. Lanceloet: De Middelnederlandse vertaling van de Lancelot en prose overgeleverd in de Lancelotcompilatie.
Pars 3 vs. In the relevant section of BN the miniatures have not been executed. This idea finds further support in the story itself. His relationship with Guenevere has its stormy patches, but it remains undiscovered and still is an inspiration for great deeds. Lancelot is one of the chosen few to see the Grail procession and to taste the wondrous food the Grail provides. His nephews Lionel and Bohort turn out to be fine knights, and Lancelot even learns that Hector is his half brother.
Arthur reigns unchallenged and conquers vast lands on the continent. There is of course a flip side to this success story and that makes for interesting thematic developments. Furthermore, it disqualifies him from success in the dawning Grail quest. The three thematic lines are presented in an interlaced tale that contains 17 Instead of numbering the folia, this manuscript has numbered each side of the leaf separately and thus has no indication of the recto or verso. These threads are alternated in a most intricate way, without ever leading the audience astray however and without breaking the illusion of the simultaneity of the events.
Until the beginning of the Queste, there will be no similarly complete gathering of the narrative threads. In the prose Charrette — Part 2 — he has returned to the forefront of the story and will remain there for the rest of the trilogy. The author must have had the later episode in mind when describing how Lancelot sent a damsel with the sword to Bohort.
Further examples point in the same direction. Under similar circumstances — confused by a magical ring and potion respectively — both father children who will perform great deeds. In the context of this seduction, Bohort promises to kidnap Queen Guenevere. He also obtains a suit of armour from a knight in exchange for the promise to give his arms to that knight when requested to do so.
When Lancelot prepares to fight Bohort and thus to keep him from abducting the queen, the elderly lady suddenly appears and urges him to accompany her. Reluctantly, she allows him to finish the duel in which Lancelot and Bohort wound each other severely. Still Lancelot is able to ride away with the lady. He is carrying the head of a newly defeated opponent at his saddle bow. The Lancelot between the story of the cart and the Grail quest is best conceived as a whole, composed in one creative go as a bridge between the prose Charrette, on the one hand, and the Queste and Mort Artu, on the other.
Part 3 of the Lancelot essentially is a preparation for things to come. It describes the conception of the Grail knight Galahad, the rise of his companion-to-be Bohort, and even the coming to court of Perceval. It shows the flaws inherent in the Arthurian world and the dangers that threaten it. I will give one brief and final example. Her plan only makes sense in view of the Mort Artu, where she will succeed in showing the king these images.
Whoever wrote this part of the Lancelot had the Mort Artu or its outline in mind when creating this kind of forward connection. This brings up the question of whether the Queste and Mort Artu already existed in their present form when the text was created that connects these components of the trilogy to the first part of the Lancelot and the Charrette. See note 3. The contents of the manuscripts are what counts in this article. The configurations are studied independent of the date of the manuscripts.
For the argument set up here, it is not so important whether a manuscript dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century or whether it came from Amiens or Italy. Giving a date for the manuscripts is hazardous, anyway. It seems unlikely that these corrections will dramatically change the general pattern, as described and used in the article. By means of the little blocks, the diagram shows what each manuscript contains; three blocks means: all of the text corresponding to that Sommer volume is found in this manuscript. The prose Charrette is represented by a diamond. It divides the cyclic Lancelot into two roughly equal parts.
Manuscripts that have an asterisk on the rightmost side of the diagram have been checked in manuscript or on microfilm. Notes regarding the manuscripts are given separately after diagram 2. Diagram 2 follows the format of diagram 1. The sequence here, however, is based on what the manuscripts contain.
If two or more manuscripts have exactly the same components they are given in chronological order. The alternative dates come from the works of Alison Stones e. Dhira B. Martine Meuwese kindly provided me with the dates that are commonly used within this working-group. Cy fine Gallehoz. Arsenal stops at S IV, p.
Hutchings p. BN is divided into three volumes. The second volume begins with the Charrette S IV, p. The text of the Lancelot is amplified with Tristan-adventures. BN — H, p. BN misses the beginning of S IV up to p. The text says f. Meleagran avoit une seror. Oxford, Rawlinson Q b 6 H, p. Rennes There is a large gap in S IV, from p. After this the text has a small section of the Charrette, pp. In so doing, the parrot functions as the primary purveyor of the comic in Le Chevalier du Papegau. Heuckenkamp Halle, All references to and citations from this romance are taken from this edition.
Patricia Victorin is presently preparing an edition of the romance for publication by Champion. This title, Le Conte du papegaulx, is also written at the beginning of the manuscript by a more modern hand fol. In , Ferdinand Heuckenkamp published an edition of the romance under the title Le Chevalier du Papegau. For the most part, critics have subsequently used this title which downplays the importance of the parrot in the romance.
In romance this comic ending goes hand in hand with, and is a suitable conclusion to, an atmosphere of pleasure that generally permeates the entire narrative. Nul hasard en cela. This is no coincidence. The parrot is the character principally responsible for producing this comic effect of merriment and delight. He does so by playing two principal comic roles: that of entertainer and that of adjuvant helper in a comic plot.
As an entertainer, the parrot provides pleasure and amusement to courts in general and to his patron, King Arthur, in particular. I propose that the parrot performs both these comic functions by fulfilling 3 4 5 6 M. The verb occurs on pp. On pp. Nor do other characters consider him a humorous figure because he is an animal. Among the effects of casting a caged parrot — that is an animal restricted physically but distinguished and empowered by its capacity for human speech — in the role of the minstrel is an emphasis on the vocal talent by which the minstrel fulfils his double comic function.
Yet from the vantage-point of characters within the spatio-temporal universe of the romance, that is from the intradiegetic perspective which is that of this paper, the parrot is not comic because he is a parrot. Rather, the papegau is viewed as an exotic and valuable prize-performer of whom only King Arthur is worthy. On minstrels, see especially pp. Henry, 5 vols. Brussels, —71 , V. On the prestige of the parrot as exotic pet in the later Middle Ages see B.
During the festivities, a damsel arrives and begs Arthur to send aid to the Dame aux Cheveux Blons Lady of the Blonde Hair whose lands and people are being destroyed by the fearsome Poisson Chevalier Fish Knight. Arthur thus begins a year-long journey, replete with harrowing adventures, during which time he strives to merit his crown. Soon after his departure, Arthur participates in the contest in which he will acquire his parrot. Often kept in a gold cage, the parrot is valued highly because of its rarity and the beauty of its plumage.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the parrot loses its prestige and becomes trivialized; see B. Henceforth he pursues his quest incognito, accompanied by his prize-parrot. Watriquet de Couvin, a minstrel active c. From the beginning of the romance, the parrot is represented as a talented entertainer whose identity is strongly linked to joy-inspiring musical and oral performance.
Even before he has the opportunity to exercise his great talent, the parrot is depicted as surrounded by musical merriment. Roques, CFMA 80, 6 vols. Paris, —82 , I, 17—34, vv. Pickens Kalamazoo, Michigan; , pp. Kelly, Faux Titre Amsterdam and Atlanta, , pp. Kelly and K. Busby, Faux Titre 31, 2 vols.
Busby and N. Lacy, Faux Titre 83 Amsterdam and Atlanta, , pp. Uitti for his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Blumenfeld-Kosinski, K. Brownlee, M. Speer and L. Walters, Faux Titre Amsterdam and Atlanta, , pp. Scheler Brussels, , p. See also Faral, Jongleurs, p. The following scene typifies the wonderful sense of carefree play and boundless mirth associated with the parrot and his performances. So they went up into the palace with such great joy that its like had not been seen since the time of King Belnain.
The damsels themselves, who were all of the same age, unarmed Arthur, and they desired nothing but to laugh and play and to make themselves delightful to him. And the parrot, when he saw the damsels, who were all fifteen years old, show such pleasure in his lord, began to sing of the chivalric feats that his lord had performed. The precise content of these songs and stories is never described in detail, and there are no lyric interpolations anywhere in the romance. However occasionally, as in this passage underlined in the above citation , a single line of prose is inserted into the text.
It is not clear if we are to consider this line an excerpt from or summary of the performance, or whether it represents the entirety of the text performed. In any case, the parrot most often performs these songs and stories alone. Nonetheless, he is introduced into the romance in conjunction with a group of performers and does on occasion perform with others — including his patron. Delightful and delighting, the parrot is depicted as the polar opposite of death, sorrow and suffering, represented here by the queen. The parrot serves to drive away unhappy sentiments and threats to joie de vivre.
Though the parrot brings pleasure to many, the most important audience for a minstrel is always his patron. The papegau entertains Arthur on countless occasions. They also fulfil an important comic function on the level of the plot as a whole. See in particular pp. The parrot therefore has a stake in the events that occur in the romance. In so doing, Arthur temporarily shuts the papegau out of the quest for glory. This image of imprisonment is used in a similar fashion when the Dame aux Cheveux Blons obliges Arthur to fight as the worst knight at her tournament.
The saint acts as both subject and adjuvant: he or she is a subject whose entire will is to serve — to be an adjuvant of — God see Vitz, Medieval Narrative, pp. The parrot serves a similar double function: he is a subject whose principal desire is to aid — to be an adjuvant of — Arthur.
We can therefore follow, narratively, [the saint] and God at the same time; we see what God wants by watching what [the saint] does. Only when Arthur begs him not to abandon him and his quest so soon does the bird regain consciousness. In several passages the parrot does more than just amuse Arthur; he also guarantees him a reason to be happy: that is, he furthers the success of the knight.
The parrot predicts adventures and prepares Arthur Such is the case with the bedtime story that the parrot recites to Arthur. The performance with which the parrot wakes Arthur also has a double comic function. In addition to entertaining Arthur, it too predicts adventures to come and readies the knight for his difficult day ahead. From the very beginning of the romance the parrot manifests a magical omniscience akin to that of Merlin — to whom the parrot refers the very first time he speaks. After Arthur defeats Lion sans Mercy in the initial contest, the parrot astonishes all by announcing the identity of the heretofore unknown victor.
The parrot encourages and emboldens Arthur When the adventures foreseen do come about, the parrot assists Arthur, encouraging and strengthening him with his performances. Sommer, 8 vols. Washington, —16 , II, New York and London, —6 , I, — The protean Merlin adopts the identity of a minstrel on pp. Amused by the entertaining nature of the song, Arthur laughs. Yet the performance also empowers Arthur and drives him towards success. Incarcerated in his cage, he remains immobile and physically dependent on others.
His strength rests completely on his vocal capacities. Maddox and S. Sturm-Maddox Cambridge, , pp. Although the parrot is linked to love in such medieval works, he is generally devoid of symbolic meaning in medieval literature — in part because the bestiary tradition fails to endow the rare bird with symbolic or moral value. The parrot of Le Chevalier du Papegau is introduced into the romance as the unrivalled performer of a repertory of songs and discourses on love which inspire amorous sentiments in men and women.
He proceeds to tell Arthur the flattering story of the maiden, cited above, whom the parrot has previously met at court. The goal of his quest — and the comic outcome of the romance — are jeopardized. She robs Arthur of the satisfaction and pleasure he derives from succeeding in combat. Fulfilling his comic function, the parrot helps Arthur regain the satisfaction of success which also brings pleasure to his admirers at court , and ensures that his quest continues towards a happy end. For too great a joy often turns into a very great sadness, and if this is not so, then one may have the right to be joyous.
The parrot comforts and consoles This expertise also enables the parrot to console his dejected patron. The bird under24 This long defense is found on pp. His pleasant performances restore to the romance a sense of pleasure and help keep the plot on its comic track. Arthur does well to accept the recommendation of this clairvoyant counsellor, for in giving guidance concerning the future, no one can rival the prophetic parrot.
His final story unifies the episodic narrative of adventures and draws the entire romance together into a conclusive whole with a decidedly comic conclusion. The concluding mise en abyme of the romance, performed by the parrot, thus realizes the goal of the narrative itself. Cy fine le conte du papegaulx. So ends the tale of the parrot. The performances of the parrot-minstrel enable Arthur to realize his various exploits, in arms and in love, and to continue, complete and advertise his quest, therefore ensuring a happy ending to the romance. Painting a strongly positive portrait of the minstrel, Le Chevalier du Papegau suggests that the even greatest of lords needs a minstrel to help him succeed and to publicize his deeds.
No matter how we interpret this displacement, cloaking the minstrel in an exotic ornithological costume undeniably draws our attention to the role of the professional performer. In making the minstrel a parrot, the author consciously highlights the function of the singer — and of the storyteller. Because Le Chevalier du Papegau, a prose romance with no lyric insertions, would have been recited or read out-loud and not sung, the choice of a parrot — that is of a bird that speaks as opposed to an animal such as the nightingale which sings sweetly but is unable to talk — underlines precisely those talents necessary to perform the romance itself.
Indeed, without storytellers like the talkative parrot, or the narrator of Le Chevalier du Papegau, that young Briton knight would have never become the glorious figure of legend, the great King Arthur. Payen et H. Voir D. Hanks Jr. Trevi Milano, Rizzoli Branca, I romanzi italiani di Tristano, op. La Tavola Ritonda, ch. XCIII, p. Il en va tout autrement dans la Tavola Ritonda. Che mala perda aggia tale oste e tale albergo e chi mi ci condusse! LXXIV, p. XCIV, p. Voir ibid. CI, pp. CI, p. Therefore, the humiliated heroes have to establish, or recover, their stained reputations in a series of adventures, which form the content of a lot of Arthurian romances.
The characterization of Keu in most romances except for the Old French Yder and Perlesvaus has comical overtones, especially when it comes to his insufficient achievements as far as knightly performance is concerned. Because of his official duties, he is tied to the Arthurian court, but when he sets off for an adventure in the outside world, he usually demonstrates his 1 2 3 This article is a reworked version of a presentation at the Conference of the International Arthurian Society held in Toulouse France.
On the character of Keu, see, among others, H. In his actions he serves as a faire-valoir for the knights with a better reputation, especially Gauvain. Where the latter succeeds, Keu must fail. Rebuked by Arthur, he walks away, grumbling. Later on in the romance, with the same brutality, he punches a servant in the face when the latter wants to disturb the king with a message of adventure while he is having dinner.
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Keu secretly takes up the adventure himself and, of course, it is bound to end up in a complete disaster. A knight to whom he had offered protection is killed and the seneschal himself is severely wounded. Although these events lead to prison, later on Keu appears to be in court, playing a traditional role by slandering Gauvain, the hero of the romance. His mockery is sharp, but on the other hand very well formulated, and what is more, true, since Gauvain is a highly ironised hero in the Vengeance and criticism, even coming from someone like Keu, is in fact not unfounded.
This is not the case in the Middle Dutch adaptation of this romance, known as Die Wrake van Ragisel, that was inserted in the Lancelot Compilation, an early fourteenth-century collection of Middle Dutch Arthurian romances. Lacy New York and London, , pp. Busby, 2 vols. Amsterdam, , II, 93—; F. For an English introduction to the Lancelot Compilation, see B.
Perchevael: adaptation of an existing translation of the Conte du Graal and several episodes of the First Continuation. Moriaen: adaptation of an existing original Middle Dutch romance. Queeste van den Grale: verse translation of the Queste del Saint Graal. Probably inserted later than the other romances. Walewein ende Keye: adaptation of an original Middle Dutch romance?
Influenced by the Lai de Tyolet. Torec: adaptation of a translation of a lost Old French romance? Arturs Doet: verse translation of La Mort le Roi Artu, a part of which has been replaced by a fragment from the world chronicle of Jacob van Maerlant, the Spiegel Historiael.
Between these three parts of the Lancelot cycle, seven independent romances some of them reworkings of Old French originals, others indigenous Middle Dutch texts have been inserted. Two of these romances, the Perchevael and the Moriaen, were inserted before the Queeste, and the other five, among which is Die Wrake van Ragisel, were placed after this romance, as shown in the diagram on the previous page.
By means of transitional passages and the insertion of complete episodes the compiler of the Lancelot Compilation tried to combine ten existing romances into a comprehensive structure. Therefore the Compilation is a striking example of a narrative cycle. Scribes or compilers have to rework texts in order to establish consistency in the description of the characters. In this article the character of the seneschal Keu is studied in some of the inserted romances in the Lancelot Compilation. It seems that the compiler of the codex had a substantial share in the characterization of this Arthurian stock-character.
The first romance to talk about is the already mentioned: Die Wrake van Ragisel, a reworked version of a Middle Dutch translation of the Old French Vengeance. The romance has a crucial position in the Lancelot Compilation. Here we have a chance to look over the shoulder of the compiler. Proceedings of the Colloquium, Amsterdam, 17—18 December, , ed. Besamusca, W. Gerritsen, C. Hogetoorn and O. Lie Amsterdam etc. Walters New York and London, , pp. Pars 1 vs. Besamusca and A. Postma Hilversum, , pp.
An English monography by B. Besamusca on the entire Compilation is forthcoming. Some major changes are in the characterization of Keu, Keye in Middle Dutch. Unlike in the Vengeance, where he disappears into the background of the romance, the seneschal even has his own adventure, which of course is a disaster. Therefore, at the end of the romance he is the object of snide remarks by the entire court. The ironic illusion in the French romance is that Maduc as well as the lady keep on longing for their beloved forever.
It is Keye who is responsible for this happy ending, although in a different way than you might expect. In the Middle Dutch text a very hilarious episode is inserted. He is to fight the champion of the duped Pucele who seeks revenge. On the French Romance see: B. Assen, The episode is analysed on pp. Terreinverkenning voor verder onderzoek van de Mnl. Bart Besamusca and Eric Kooper Cambridge, , pp. The following, rather Monty Python-like fight between Maurus and Lord Bayneel is remarkable: the two champions let go at each other with an enormous clash of arms. However, they merely succeed in inflicting little scratches on each other.
The scene is full of irony if you recollect that the latter once was the cruel knight who decapitated a lot of knights and impaled their heads on stakes. Eventually, in the Middle Dutch romance all is well that ends well: Maurus, being the victor, gains the hand of the lady he is in love with, the once terrifying Joncvrouwe van Galestroet. As a result the suggestion is made that Die Wrake van Ragisel is an anti-Keye story. In his dissertation on the Middle Dutch adaptations of the Vengeance Raguidel Gerritsen, in , already described the changes in Die Wrake van Ragisel in relation to the French original.
The character of Keye might be considered as a guiding thread through large parts of this complex manuscript. The main questions concerning the seneschal are: how is Keye depicted in the other texts of the Compilation? And, secondly, is it possible to determine certain characteristics as adaptations on the part of the compiler? Of course it is impossible to consider the Compilation as a whole in this article.
In the Moriaen, 12 See note 9. Jonckbloet, 2 vols. Walewein ende Keye takes up lines — of the third book. Presumably, the author had the Conte du Graal in mind here. The five romances that were inserted after the Queeste vanden Grale, however, offer a different picture: it is remarkable that Keye plays an extraordinarily important part here.
His role is less than usually bound to traditional scenes and he comes out of the background more than ever, even though he never is a major figure. It is striking that he is a very negative character, whose escapades outside the court are extremely comical. The most divergent seneschal we find in Walewein ende Keye. No other versions of this romance are known, but it is probably a shortened version, or at least an adaptation, of an earlier Middle Dutch romance.
The story starts in quite an unusual way. Supported by a group of twenty friends, Keye accuses the innocent Walewein of haughtiness. He is alleged to have said that in one year he would have more adventures than all of the other knights of the Round Table together. Just like in Die Wrake, the seneschal has his own adventure later on in the romance. Besamusca and F. After a week of roaming, Keye at last meets his adventure.
That is to say, he makes sure that something happens. The seneschal comes into conflict — how on earth is this possible? Similarly to Die Wrake, the description of the fight in Walewein ende Keye is hilarious: because he is impeded in his movements by the spear of his opponent that has penetrated his hauberk right under his armpit, Keye has some fearful moments before he is knocked off his horse. Finally, Keye and his friends manage to escape, by means of a dirty trick, but at the end of the romance the unfortunate seneschal cannot look to Arthur any more for assistance.
The king surprisingly curses him with all his heart. He changed Die Wrake into an anti-Keye story, and thus prepared his audience for the treacherous seneschal who appears in the initial episode of Walewein ende Keye. Did he write this comical episode, and did he use Keye as a vehicle of humour, not only in Die Wrake but also in Walewein ende Keye? To go even furthur: is there even a clue for adaptation as far as Keye is concerned in all of the romances of the last section of the Compilation?
As I have stated earlier, all of these romances show a negative seneschal whose escapades are extremely comical. Lacy, ed. Keith Busby and Catherine M. Jones Amsterdam and Atlanta, , pp. On traditional hospitality sequences see M.