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When worlds collide : structure and fantastic in selected 12th- and 13th- century French narratives Bolding, Sharon Lynn Dunkel 1998

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W H E N WORLDS COLLIDE: STRUCTURE A N D FANTASTIC IN SELECTED 12TH- A N D 13TH- C E N T U R Y F R E N C H NARRATIVES by S H A R O N L Y N N D U N K E L B O L D I N G B . A . , The University o f Washington, 1986 M . A . , The University o f British Columbia, 1988 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F P H I L O S O P H Y T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S Department o f French We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A November, 1997 © Sharon Lynn Dunkel Bolding, 1997 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of j ~ p £ A A >gJK The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date u/aa/q-? DE-6 (2/88) Abstract When worlds collide: Structure and fantastic in selected 12 t h- and 13 , h-century French narratives B y Sharon Lynn Dunkel Bolding This study examines six texts o f the 12 t h and 13 t h centuries for the fantastic mode. It first refutes the critical assertion that the fantastic could not exist in medieval literature, but also establishes that most o f the casually denominated "fantastic" is not. For the genuine fantastic, both in general and in its medieval appearances, questions of reality are at most peripheral. Rather the fantastic mode encodes itself in the narrative structure, creating ambiguity and openness. The structural approach frees the discussion o f the fantastic from theories predicated upon issues o f thematics, reality-based analysis, and didactic categorizations o f supernatural objects. The first two chapters synthesize those elements from modern works o f fantastic theory, (re)deflning the fantastic based upon a semiotic approach. The introduction concentrates on the need to reexamine the corpus o f critical works addressing the fantastic. Chapter 1 summarizes the theoretical discussion in order to adjust the definition o f "fantastic" as a critical term according to a more pre-Renaissance view o f reality. Chapter 2 proposes the parallel worlds model as a structural model for the identification of the fantastic mode in texts where the supernatural is evident, with an emphasis on fantastic space as an intermediary locale between worlds. The last four chapters apply the parallel worlds model to a selected corpus o f six narratives. While the structures of these texts vary in length, the fantastic is consistently manifested in a pattern that alternates between the real world, fantastic space and the otherworld. The open-ended structure of five narratives indicates that journeys to the otherworld are rarely accomplished with a high degree o f completion, and therefore the narrative program remains incomplete. The conclusion is a defense o f the fantastic within medieval French literature, concentrating on how the supernatural creates /otherness/, fantastic space and openness in the narrative program. The fantastic as a powerful but elusive force within Old French romance narratives often shifts to the merveilleioc in the end. The parallel worlds model, when used in conjunction with other theories for identifying the fantastic, is a structural method that emphasizes openness as a characteristic o f the fantastic within medieval romance narratives. Table of Contents Table of Contents Abstract i i Table o f Contents iv List o f Tables vi List o f Figures v i i Acknowledgments vi i i Introduction 1 Goals 8 Literary Corpus 11 Critical Sources 13 Methodology 15 1. Defining the Fantastic 19 1.1. The Fantastic as a Critical Term 19 1.2. Theories o f the Fantastic 24 1.3. Mimesis and the Fantastic 48 The Merveilleux in Relation to the Fantastic 55 A Typology o f the Fantastic 59 2. A Structural Model for the Fantastic 63 2.1. Otherness—an Organizing Principle 64 2.2. The One-to-Many Model of Mimesis and the Fantastic 66 2.3. Beyond the "Unreal" 69 2.4. Openness and the Fantastic 75 2.5. A N e w Model for the Fantastic 82 2.6. Defining Fantastic Space 90 2.7. The Fantastic Mode and Medieval Narratives 102 3. Le Conte du graal 110 3.1. Segmenting the Narrative 113 3.2. Levels o f Conflict 133 3.3. Communication Models in Le Conte du graal 144 3.4. Fantastic Aspects and Structure in the Graal 150 3.5. Failure and the Fantastic Mode in the Graal 165 iv Table of Contents 4. Le Chevalier de la charrette 167 4.1. The Structure of Le Chevalier de la charrette 169 4.2. Conflict and Paradox 183 4.3. Fantastic Aspects in Le Chevalier de la charrette 190 4.4. Fantastic and Structure in the Charrette 209 5. Graelent and Guingamor 212 5.1 Graelent 214 5.1.1 The Structure o f Graelent 215 5.1.2. The Fantastic Mode in Graelent 226 5.2. Guingamor 242 5.2.1. The Structure of Guingamor 243 5.2.2. Evidence for the Fantastic in Guingamor 252 5.3. Fantastic and Merveilleux 267 6. Amadas et Ydoine and L'Atre perilleux 270 6.1. Amadas et Ydoine 275 6.1.1. The Structure for the Cemetery Adventure m Amadas et Ydoine 276 6.1.2. Fantastic Aspects in Amadas et Ydoine 281 6.2. L'Atre perilleux 291 6.2.1. The Structure o f the Cemetery Adventure in L'Atre perilleux 294 6.2.2. Fantastic Aspects in L'Atre perilleux 304 Conclusions 317 The Fantastic Mode and the Narrative Program 319 Structure and the Fantastic 327 The Parallel Worlds Mode l 335 Appendix A : Summary of Structuralist and Semiotic Methods 345 Appendix B : Summary o f Narrative Structures 355 Bibliography 359 v Table of Contents List of Tables Table 3.1—General structure for Perceval's adventures 115 Table 3.2—Refined structure for Perceval's adventures 129 Table 3.3—Parallel structure for Perceval's adventures in feminine realms 131 Table 3.4—Reversed structure for Perceval's adventures in Logres 131 Table 3.5—The nested structure of the Grail adventure 161 Table 4.1—General structure for the Charrette 175 Table 4.2—Refined structure for the Charrette 182 Table 5.1—General structure for Graelent 217 Table 5.2—Refined structure for Graelent 240 Table 5.3—General structure for Guingamor 243 Table 5.4—Refined structure for Guingamor 251 Table 6.1—General structure for the cemetery adventure in Amadas et Ydoine 276 Table 6.2—Refined structure for the cemetery adventure in Amadas et Ydoine 288 Table 6.3—General structure for the cemetery adventure in L 'Atre perilleux 295 Table 6.4—Refined structure for the cemetery adventure in L 'Atre perilleux 303 Table A. l—Symbols used for narrative structures 354 Table B . l — L e Conte du graal 355 Table B . 2 — L e Chevalier de la charrette 356 Table B.3—Graelent 356 Table B.4—Guingamor 357 Table B.5—Amadas et Ydoine 357 Table B . 6 — L ' A t r e perilleux 358 Table of Contents List of Figures Figure 2.1—Organizing model for /otherness/ 65 Figure 2.2—The cycle o f narrative crisis and resolution in the fantastic 72 Figure 2.3—Model for current representations o f the fantastic 84 Figure 2.4—Proposed model o f the fantastic 87 Figure 2.5—Possible narrative scenarios for the fantastic 89 Figure 3.1 — M o d e l of Perceval's initial situation 135 Figure 3.2—Semiotic model for communication 145 Figure 3.3—Model o f Perceval's perspective while in Logres 155 Figure 3.4—Structural model for Perceval's voyage to the Grail Castle 160 Figure 4.1—Semiotic model for the paradox between love and reason 186 Figure 4.2—Structural model for Lancelot's voyage to Gorre 207 Figure 5.1—Structural model for Graelent's spatial displacement 220 Figure 5.2—Spatial displacement for Graelent's departure 225 Figure 5.3—The extension o f fantastic space 232 Figure 5.4—Narrative program for Graelent's adventure 238 Figure 5.5—Structural Model for Guingamor's spatial displacement 258 Figure 5.6—Narrative program for Guingamor's adventure 266 Figure 6.1—Structural model for Amadas' cemetery adventure 286 Figure 6.2—Structural model for the dark knight's voyage 286 Figure 6.3—Spatial model for the fantastic in L 'Atre perilleux 307 Figure 7.1—Revised narrative scenarios for the fantastic 335 Figure 7.2—Physical model of fantastic space 338 Figure A.1—The semiotic square 347 Figure A.2—The actantial model 349 Acknowledgments Many people have helped to make my seven years spent at the University o f British Columbia some of the most significant of my life. Dr . Rae Baudouin, my advisor, deserves special thanks not only due to her invaluable support, teaching, and guidance in her role as my advisor, but also for her friendship and the supportive way she encouraged me to not let go. I am indebted to Dr. Richard Holdaway for his many insightful and thought-provoking suggestions. Also, Dr . Chantal Phan has provided an enormous amount o f direction and insight into the intricacies o f literary criticism. I would like to thank my parents, John and Rose Dunkel for their support and encouragement in all my adventures. M y husband Kevin has been a well-spring o f support love and encouragement during my time at U B C . Also, to the many friends and supporters o f Calvary Chapel, who believed in me when I no longer could, I am eternally greatful. M y final thanks go to God, revealed to us by His son, Jesus Christ, without whom I would be, literally, nothing. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23 vm Introduction For the past several decades, the number and diversity of critical works devoted to the study o f the fantastic in the western literary tradition have steadily increased.1 In the 40's and early 50's, beginning with Howard Lovecraft and Pierre-Georges Castex, critics began to gather together collections o f fantastic texts from the 19 t h century and later. Research focusing on the fantastic was generally limited to a thematic discussion which concentrated on cataloguing a wide array o f supernatural elements within literature. Few ventured beyond a superficial examination o f their source material, preferring to categorize texts into subgenres and variants. With the publication of Introduction d la litterature fantastique in 1970, Tzvetan Todorov changed the direction of research into theories o f the fantastic by moving away from the thematic arid instead focusing his attention upon the structural elements o f fantastic literature. 1 See Howard Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature (New York: Abramson, 1945); Pierre-Georges Castex, Le Conte fantastique en France de Nodier a Maupassant (Paris: Corti, 1951); Roger Caillois, Anthologie du fantastique (Paris: Gallimard, 1966); Tzvetan Todorov, Introduction a la litterature fantastique (Paris: Seuil, 1970); William Irwin, The Game of the Impossible: A Rhetoric of Fantasy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976); Eric Rabkin, The Fantastic in Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976). Amaryll Chanady, Magical Realism and the Fantastic: Resolved Versus Unresolved Antinomy (New York: Garland, 1985); Charles Grivel, Fantastique-fiction (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992). Francis Dubost, Aspects fantastiques de la litterature narrative medievale (Geneva: Slatkine, 1992). 1 Introduction Subsequently, many critics have taken up the subject of fantastic theory and built upon the seminal work of Todorov by expanding the definition of what constitutes fantastic literature to include such diverse viewpoints as the fantastic as a mode rather than a genre,2 the fantastic as a manifestation o f social disorder,3 and the fantastic as a reflection o f the author's desire to project his own role as textual creator onto the reader.4 While some critics 5 have examined the "medieval" nature of 19 t h- and 20 t h-century fantastic literature, few 6 have actually applied fantastic theories to the narrative works o f medieval authors. However, I believe that the impact o f fantastic themes, elements, and motifs on medieval narratives and their structure should not be overlooked. Irene Bessiere, Le Recti fantastique: la poetique de I 'incertain (Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1974); Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy, the Literature of Subversion (New York: Methuen, 1981); Kathryn Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis; Responses to Reality in Western Literature (New York: Methuen, 1984); Rabkin, op. cit. Jackson, op. cit.; Jose Monleon, A Specter is Haunting Europe: A Sociohistorical Approach to the Fantastic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990); Christine Brooke-Rose, A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic (London: Cambridge University Press, 1981). Each o f these questions is discussed in detail in Chapter 1, "Defining the Fantastic." Marcel Schneider, Histoire de la litterature fantastique en France (Paris: Fayard, 1964); Grivel, op. cit., Chapter 1, "Le Fantastique, introduction au non-systeme." For an example, see Dubost, op. cit. 2 Introduction It is worthwhile to begin this investigation by noting that while the concept o f merveilleux is well-established in French medieval literature, it is not a parallel to, nor a replacement for, the fantastic.7 Often, the two terms are treated as synonyms with "fantastic" and "merveilleux" both indicating the presence o f the supernatural. In discussing the matiere de Bretagne, Joseph Bedier implied that there is a qualitative degree o f similarity between the fantastic and the merveilleux. "II est assure que les Bretons ont donne aux Francais le gout d'un certain fantastique, d'un certain merveilleux."8 But there is a basic underlying difference between the two. With the merveilleux, there is no attempt to hide the supernatural. With the fantastic, on the contrary, there is a necessary illusion o f reality on the surface that belies the supernatural nature o f people, places, and events. A medievalist can easily dismiss out of hand the notion o f the fantastic, believing that "fantastic" as a critical term has no relevance to the study o f medieval literature. Indeed, Zumthor, in his Essai de poetique medievale, warned against the tendency to interpret the fantastic nature of medieval literature as "notre fantastique."9 A medievalist, upon pursuing 7 In this dissertation, I use the following terms interchangeably: reality, mimesis, natural and etrange all refer to the real world; supernatural, merveilleux, unnatural and unreal all refer to the otherworld; otherness and alterity refer to the fantastic. 8 Joseph Bedier, "Introduction," Tristan, 2 vols. (Paris: Societe des Anciens Textes Francais, 1952) 2: 142. 9 Paul Zumthor, Essai de poetique medievale (Paris: Seuil, 1972) 138. 3 Introduction this question, wi l l be assured that the fantastic did not and could not exist before the 19 t n century. William Irwin emphatically states that "in no significant sense does fantasy have a history." 1 0 Rosemary Jackson implicitly requires an industrial society as a necessary foundation, providing a cultural framework for the production of fantasy.11 Each o f these three critics limits the scope o f the fantastic to the literary corpus of the last two centuries. Opposing the opinions o f Zumthor, Irwin, and Jackson, several recent critics have come out in favor of applying fantastic theory to medieval literature. Marcel Schneider, in compiling his Histoire de la litterature fantastique en France, begins by examining several works from the 12 t h through 15 t h centuries. 1 2 Francis Dubost, m Aspects fantastiques de la litterature narrative medievale, begins his study o f the fantastic by examining works that go as far back as St. Augustine. 1 3 He has extensively discussed what constitutes the fantastic as opposed to the merveilleux in medieval literature. He points out in his introduction, "L'idee que dans F immense domaine du merveilleux medieval existaient quelques ilots fantastiques a commence 1 0 Irwin, The Game..., 10. For a detailed discussion o f fantasy and the fantastic, see section 1.1.2.1 of this dissertation. 1 1 Jackson, Fantasy..., 26. 1 2 Among the texts Schneider examines are Le Chevalier de la charrette and Le Conte du graal by Chretien de Troyes. He also discusses Le Roman d'Alexandre, the Lais o f Marie de France, Amadas et Ydoine, Le Jeu de la feuillee, Le Paradis de la reine Sibylle, and Le Livre de la fontaineperilleuse. Schneider, Histoire..., 15-44. 1 3 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques. . . , 31 . 4 Introduction a prendre corps. [...] [L]es annees 70 ont marque un tournant dans l'etude de l'imaginaire medieval. Des medievistes comme Charles Brucker, Robert Deschaux, Laurence Harf-Lancner, Philippe Menard, Danielle Regnier-Bohler, Joel Grisward, et j'en oublie certainement, accueillent volontiers la notion de 'fantastique',"14 acknowledging a shift in the critical debate away from Zumthor's position and towards a more open approach to the question. Dubost asserts that fantastic and merveilleux are in direct opposition in a narrative. The former embodies the concept of disorder or chaos while the latter represents an alternate system or world view with its own internal unity.15 The real world is defined as a physically possible world, one that "has the same natural laws as does the actual world."16 The otherworld, in contrast, is a physically impossible world and is based on Celtic tradition as opposed to a purely spiritual otherworld or Christian concepts of the afterlife. According to Celtic mythology, the otherworld exists neither above nor below reality, but parallel to it. 1 7 This parallel world has its own laws of time, logic, and social behavior yet does not directly control the human world. Often the laws of the otherworld are such that they create a 14 ibid., 3, 5. 15 ibid., 126-128. 1 6 Raymond Bradley and Norman Swartz, Possible Worlds: An Introduction to Logic and Its Philosophy (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1979) 6. 1 7 "L'Autre monde celtique est le double lumineux du notre; on y vit (mieux) et on s'y distrait comme dans le notre. On s'y livre a toute sorte de jeux: de ceux de ramour a ceux de la guerre." Pierre Gallais, La Fee a la fontaine et al 'arbre: un archetype du conte merveilleux et du recit courtois (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 1992) 253. 5 Introduction supernatural aura associated with the characters from this parallel realm. The keystone o f the fantastic is thus the opposition between the physically possible and the supernatural worlds. The presence o f the fantastic is signaled by the conflict between the real and supernatural worlds resulting in chaos. The etrange results when the hero chooses reality. The merveilleux is produced by choosing in favor of the supernatural. To what degree, then, can one apply the methods and definitions o f critics who examine modern fantastic texts to the works o f medieval authors? Certainly the tendency to adopt the assumptions and circumstances o f one body o f literature and apply them to another, unrelated literary period is to be studiously avoided. However, the basic question o f what differentiates reality from the supernatural remains and is not limited to the last two centuries. 1 8 Inasmuch as that differentiation is addressed specifically by fantastic theory, then a valid theory o f the fantastic should rightly be able to speak to the particular conditions o f any given literary period. In this dissertation, those conditions of production concern medieval literature in 8 Francis Dubost examines the supernatural as an ambiguous term that is often confused with the more well-known merveilleux. He refers to the usage o f supernatural in relation to medieval literature as "Dire le surnaturel, c'est oeuvrer en pure perte pour tenter de dire l'indicible." Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 16. For a detailed analysis o f the supernatural elements in Le Chevalier de la charrette, see J. Frappier, Chretien de Troyes, (Paris: Hatier, 1957) 136-7. For a focused discussion o f the supernatural elements in 12 t h- and 13 t h- century literature surrounding the character o f Lancelot, see Elspeth M . Kennedy, "The role of the supernatural in the first part o f the Old French prose Lancelot" Studies in Medieval Literature and Languages in Memory of Frederick Whitehead (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1973) 173-184. Discussing literature from a variety o f periods, Nancy Trail examines the interaction o f the supernatural from within the context o f the natural world. Nancy Trail, "Fictional Worlds o f the Fantastic," Style, V o l . 25, N° 2, Summer (1991): 196-210. 6 Introduction which the real and the supernatural are often in opposition to each other. In section 2.1 "The One-to-Many Model of Mimesis and the Fantastic," I propose an approach to accounting for the variety of supernatural elements found in medieval literature, rather than a simple inverse relationship between reality and the supernatural. The way in which the conflicting forces o f mimesis and anti-mimesis are treated in literary production makes it possible to examine the fantastic and its influences upon the composition o f medieval narratives. For, i f one adopts the basic premise o f earlier critical examinations o f the fantastic,1 9 then the juncture where the representations of the real world (mimesis) and the supernatural otherworld (anti-mimesis) meet creates an intermediary space in which the fantastic may be said to exist. Or, as Todorov explains it, the fantastic is born o f the conflict created when the real world and the otherworld come into contact. 2 0 9 For example, Kathryn Hume writes from the point o f view that the fantastic is primarily based on the dichotomy between the mimetic and anti-mimetic forces within a narrative. Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis... See also Gerhard Hoffman's discussion o f the fantastic which is founded on the premise of 19 t h-century realism (267-274) in "The Fantastic in Fiction: Its 'Reality' Status, its Historical Development and its Transformation in Postmodern Narration," Real: The Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, V o l . 1 (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1982) 267-364. 2 0 Todorov, Introduction..., 28^15. 7 Introduction Goals The purpose of the present study is to examine the fantastic—its related theories, the application of those theories to a selected corpus o f 12 t h- and 13 t h-century French narrative literature, and the validity o f developing a structural model for the fantastic based on those medieval narratives. I look at the way in which the fantastic acts as an organizing principle within the narrative and the development o f the fantastic in relation to the structure. Does the role o f the fantastic remain stable over time or does it shift as authors become more adept at integrating the otherworld into reality within their texts? This dissertation does not examine the conte fantastique21 but rather the fantastic as a mode 2 2 coexisting with mimesis. 2 3 The fantastic is not addressed as a genre 2 4 or even a sub-21 Pierre-Georges Castex defines the conte fantastique as follows, "Des le X V I I I 6 siecle, Cazotte enfermait une histoire fantastique dans les limites du conte qui, par la brievete et le naturel, est le genre le plus propre a creer un effet intense." Pierre-Georges Castex, Anthologie du conte fantastique (Paris: Corti, 1963) 6. 2 2 Gerald Prince defines "mode" according to Frye's five types. " A fictional world considered from the point of view o f the hero's power of action in relation to human beings and to their environment." Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987) 54. Nancy Trail writes, "The concept o f mode permits a crossgeneric and transhistorical approach to the fantastic, helping us to decide how one fantastic narrative differs from, or resembles, another." Trail, "Fictional Worlds...," 199. 2 3 For a discussion o f the fantastic as a mode in relationship to mimesis, see Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis..., 20. Roland Barthes, writing about the relationship between mimesis and meaning, explains the basic flaw in the mimetic view o f narrative: "Ainsi , dans tout recit, l'imitation reste contingente ; la fonction du recit n'est pas de « representer », elle est de constituer un spectacle qui nous reste encore tres enigmatique, mais qui ne 8 Introduction genre o f medieval literature. This dissertation does not attempt to prove that medieval people would have perceived any of the texts I examine herein as "fantastic." I seek rather to bring the literature o f the past into the present by applying contemporary academic knowledge to the past. Therefore I propose to examine the relationship between the fantastic mode and the structure o f medieval narrative texts through the application o f modern literary theory. The goal of Chapters 1 and 2 is to establish a critical framework for examining the fantastic within medieval literature. To that end, Chapter 1, "Defining the Fantastic," synthesizes those elements from contemporary fantastic theory which are not period-specific in order to generate an encompassing theory o f the fantastic, defined herein as a mode o f literary expression that affects the structure and means of producing a text. In Chapter 2, " A Structural Model for the Fantastic," I propose that an examination of the structure o f saurait etre d'ordre mimetique ; la « realite » d'une sequence n'est pas dans la suite « naturelle » des actions qui la composent, mais dans la logique qui s'y expose, s'y risque et s'y satisfait... Le recit ne fait pas voir, i l n'imite pas ; la passion qui peut nous enflammer a la lecture d'un roman n'est pas celle d'une « vision » (en fait, nous ne « voyons » rien), c'est celle du sens, c'est-a-dire d'un ordre superieur de la relation, qui possede, lui aussi, ses emotions, ses espoirs, ses menaces, ses triomphes..." Roland Barthes, L 'Aventure semiologique (Paris: Seuil, 1985) 206. 2 4 I agree with Northrop Frye's definition of genre. Frye defines "genre" according to the means of presentation chosen by the author to communicate with his audience. "The basis of generic distinctions in literature appears to be the radical o f presentation. Words may be acted out in front o f a spectator; they may be spoken in front o f a listener; they may be sung or chanted; or they may be written for a reader. [...] in the sense that the genre is detennined by the conditions established between the poet and his public." There are three basic genres identified by Frye: drama, epic and lyric. Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957) 246—47. 9 Introduction narratives can show how an ambiguous resolution (a lack o f the anticipated "happy ending"), or sometimes no resolution at all, reinforces the sense of uncertainty 2 5 and hesitation 2 6 commonly associated with fantastic texts. This "open-ended" structure enhances the quality o f the text by furnishing it with any number o f possible outcomes. I also present a definition for fantastic space as a means o f identifying the passage ways to the otherworld and to show how those locations provide a source of counterpoise to the mimetic in a text. B y defining fantastic space, it is possible to develop a pattern by which to recognize that a particular character has left his own world for the supernatural otherworld. This also allows the establishment o f a zone where the fantastic resides. Such a region is found somewhere between the real and supernatural worlds. The purpose of Chapters 3 through 6 is to present a selection o f six narratives from the 12 t h and 13 t h centuries, examine their structures, account for the presence o f fantastic elements in light o f the preceding theoretical discussion, and to conclude to what degree the structure o f the text supports a fantastic interpretation o f the narrative. The premise o f this inquiry into the relationship between narrative structure and fantastic theory is a view o f the fantastic not as a genre, but as a mode employed throughout the narrative. 2 5 See Bessiere, Le Recit fantastique..., passim. 2 6 See Todorov, Introduction passim. 10 Introduction Literary Corpus The scope o f this study is limited to the discussion of the fantastic and narrative structure in two romances o f Chretien de Troyes, a pair o f lais, and pertinent episodes from two other romance narratives. Each o f the primary texts was chosen on the basis of several criteria. Foremost, the presence o f the otherworld is a key element to the study o f the fantastic.2 7 Another factor related to the otherworld is the semblance of an inexplicable or paradoxical situation created by the interaction of real and otherworldly characters.2 8 Fear, as experienced by a character or the implied reader, is frequently singled out in studies o f the fantastic as a defining element o f fantastic literature, but I believe it is not necessarily a mandatory feature. Rather, the inexplicable may evoke fear, but it also frequently evokes curiosity. In each o f the six texts I have chosen to examine, the above elements are all present on a thematic level. Many of the critics I cite in Chapter 1 have addressed the thematic aspects of the fantastic at length. I wi l l concentrate on the structure o f the narratives as an additional (and complementary) way of assessing the fantastic within medieval narratives. 2 7 The presence of the otherworld as a central motif critical to theories o f the fantastic is discussed in Chapter 1, "Defining the Fantastic." 2 8 The paradoxical or inexplicable situation is discussed in section 1.4.2, "The Fantastic as a Paradox" and in Chapter 2, " A Structural Model for the Fantastic." 11 Introduction I start with an inquiry into the structure o f Le Conte du graal.29 A s the protagonist, Perceval is discussed in light o f his paradoxical nature. The fantastic mode is revealed through the ability o f various characters to communicate with each other about the supernatural. When faced with an ambiguous situation, Perceval's response or lack thereof determines whether he proceeds or is subverted in his three goals—knighthood, reunion with his mother and knowledge o f the Grail. Chapter 4 examines Le Chevalier de la charrette™ where Lancelot travels between Logres and Gorre. While journeying in search o f the queen, Lancelot makes choices that reveal the fantastic mode in the Charrette as an elusive and transitory state. In other words, Lancelot's actions within and reactions to the otherworld are indications that the fantastic mode is operating within the narrative. Chapter 5 addresses the fantastic mode within two anonymous lais from the collection published by Prudence Mary O'Hara Tobin . 3 1 The lai of Guingamor presents a journey, where the young knight enters the otherworld yet consistently ignores the supernatural implications o f his adventure. I also examine Graelent for evidence of the fantastic by comparing and contrasting its narrative program and structure 2 9 Chretien de Troyes, Le Conte du graal, ed. Felix Lecoy, C F M A N° 100 (Paris: Champion, 1975) . 3 0 Chretien de Troyes, Le Chevalier de la charrette, ed. Mario Roques, C F M A N° 86 (Paris: Champion, 1983). 3 1 Prudence Mary O'Hara Tobin, Les Lais anonymes des XIf etXIIf siecles (Geneva: Droz, 1976) . 12 Introduction to that o f LanvaP2 and Guingamor. Chapter 6 accounts for two narratives which contain fantastic episodes and yet are primarily mimetic texts. Specific portions of Amadas et Ydoine^ and L 'Atre perilleux 3 4 are analyzed, which highlight the reactions o f the characters and reflect the attitudes o f those characters towards the supernatural. The changing nature o f the fantastic mode from the 12 t h century to the 13 t h century wil l be seen in the treatment o f the otherworld adventure which, I believe, evolves from a fundamental element o f the text to a purely optional episode within highly mimetic texts. Critical sources The primary critical sources I use as a basis o f fantastic theory are Todorov's Introduction a la litterature fantastique,35 Francis Dubost's Aspects fantastiques de la litterature narrative medievale36 and Umberto Eco 's The Open Work.31 Studies by Kathryn Hume, 3 8 Rosemary 3 2 Marie de France, Les Lais, ed. Jean Rychner, C F M A N° 93 (Paris: Champion, 1978). 3 3 Amadas et Ydoine, ed. Jean-Claude Aubailly, C F M A N° 36 (Paris: Champion, 1986). 3 4 L 'Atre perilleux, ed. Brian Woledge, C F M A N° 76 (Paris: Champion, 1936). 3 5 Todorov, Introduction... 3 6 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques... 3 7 Umberto Eco, The Open Work, trans. Anna Cancogni (Harvard, Harvard University Press, 1989). 3 8 Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis... 13 Introduction Jackson, 3 9 Jean M o l i n o 4 0 and Marcel Schneider 4 1 contribute to the development of a comprehensive fantastic theory that is independent of a particular period of literature. The discussion o f these critical works investigates the link between the presence o f the fantastic as a mode and the structure of narration. 4 2 I begin with Todorov because he, more than any other, is responsible for bringing a literary theory o f the fantastic into the realm o f credibility. Francis Dubost is an important source as well, having contributed the first major work exclusively devoted to the examination of the fantastic aspects o f medieval French literature. Approaching the topic from a thematic point of view, Dubost examines various aspects o f medieval composition which furnish the source material for the fantastic literature o f later literary periods. Umberto Eco presents a persuasive argument that a work can be viewed as an open text encoded with multiple possible meanings. Marcel Schneider, in Histoire de la litterature fantastique en France, addresses the historic perspective of fantastic literature, encompassing texts from the 12 t h 3 9 Jackson, Fantasy... 4 0 Jean Molino, "Trois modeles d'analyse du fantastique," Europe: Les Fantastiques 611 Mar. 1986: 12-27. 4 1 Schneider, Histoire... 4 2 Narrative structure is defined as "the network o f relations obtaining between the various constituents o f a whole as well as between each constituent and the whole." Prince, Dictionary . . . ,93. Prince bases his definition on the work o f Greimas and Courtes, "The Cognitive Dimension of Narrative Discourse," New Literary History 7 (1976): 4 3 3 ^ 7 . 14 Introduction through the 20 l century. Kathryn Hume regards the fantastic as having an equal impetus to that of mimesis in producing fictional narratives. Rosemary Jackson discusses the social implications o f the fantastic as a subversive force within literature. Each o f these critics' works are discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, "Defining the Fantastic" and " A Structural Mode l for the Fantastic." Methodology The primary methodological approach o f this dissertation is the structural analysis o f medieval narratives. I choose the structural method 4 3 because of its ability to quantify the openness4 4 o f a narrative on the basis of conflicts and their resolution. The structuralist method has been developed by such critics as Propp, Todorov and Greimas. 4 5 Their theories generally claim to be applicable to most narrative works, and they address issues central to this dissertation, such as the structure o f relations (through antagonism and rivalry) between the various characters (the subject and other actants), narrative closure as realized by the 4 3 Appendix A contains a general overview o f the structural method o f analyzing texts, followed by a table o f basic symbols used in the equations. 4 4 The concept o f "openness" based on the research of Umberto Eco is discussed at length in Chapter 2. A s a quality o f a narrative, openness is provisionally defined by Eco as a work that is susceptible to "...countless different interpretations..." Eco, The Open Work..., 4. 4 5 See, for example, Vladimir Propp, Morphologie du conte, trans. Marguerite Derrida, Tzvetan Todorov, and Claude Kahn, Poetique, N° 12 (Paris: Seuil, 1970); A . J. Greimas, Semantique structurale (Paris: Larousse, 1966); Tzvetan Todorov, Grammaire du Decameron (The Hague: Mouton, 1969); Roland Barthes, "Introduction a l'analyse structurale des recits," Communications, 8 (1966) 1-27. 15 Introduction satisfaction o f desire, and the social implications o f desire (specifically when that desire is fulfilled or denied). Although the specifics o f each critic's application differ, they all agree that narratives are generally expressed by means o f a finite narrative code—a process characterized by the insistent, paradoxical interplay between the uniformity o f the system and the variety o f its specific manifestations.46 According to Greimas, each narration is composed of a number o f narrative units. Each narrative unit represents a disjunctive situation which must be resolved. In a similar fashion, Umberto Eco describes a narrative according to a process o f moving from a situation to its resolution. "... [G]iven a situation Si and a situation S2 which represents the solution o f Si (its terminus ad quern) what we call 'process' is the transition from the first situation to the second—a transition during which S i , structurally incomplete and ambiguous, gradually finds a definition and a solution as S2."4 7 Clearly, according to this definition, the plot moves closer to the final resolution as each subsequent situation is resolved. When a corrflict remains unresolved, there is a question in the mind o f the reader as to what the outcome could have been. The greater the degree of questioning, the more openness a story has. B y utilizing a 4 6 Todorov, Introduction..., 11, 26-27. See also Propp's contrast o f the amazing multiformity o f the Russian folk tale with its striking uniformity and repetition, which produces "... le double aspect du conte merveilleux : d'une part, son extraordinaire diversite, son pittoresque haut en couleur, et d'autre part, son uniformite non moins extraordinaire, sa monotonie." Propp, op. cit., 30. 4 7 Eco, The Open Work..., 74-75. 16 Introduction formal method 4 8 for quantifying the structure of a text, I wi l l be able to show which narrative conflicts are resolved and which ones remain unresolved, or open. Also, the use o f equations to outline the structure of a work, according to a method established by Greimas, Eco, and Courtes, provides a uniform way to compare divergent narrative types to each other. I wi l l argue that the presence o f the fantastic mode in these six medieval narratives influences their structure, which in turn strengthens and sustains a fantastic interpretation o f their narrative program 4 9 and the ambiguity within them. The question therefore is based on the symbiotic relationship between the two: that is, the fantastic mode cannot exist without a narrative structure that supports the inherent ambiguity of the events narrated. The fantastic is most apparent within a narrative where the resolution offers at best conflicting interpretations but is most often inconclusive, lacking a clear explanation o f the intrigue. One may consider that the presence o f the fantastic mode in medieval narratives has created a unique literature that cannot be readily compared with the literary production o f subsequent social periods 4 8 The scientific approach of the structuralists and the deep penetration into a text (espoused by post-structural critics such as Lacan) complement each other in the search for textual meaning. The structuralist method provides a way to systematically categorize the elements o f a text and how they are combined. This inventory provides a rational basis for measuring the effectiveness o f a text to follow or subvert the narrative program. For a detailed analysis, see Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction, Theory and Criticism after Structuralism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982) 22-30. 4 9 Narrative program refers to "a syntagm at the level o f narrative surface structure representing a change o f state effected by an actor and affecting another (or the same) actor." Prince, Dictionary..., 62. For a further discussion o f the narrative program, see Appendix A . 17 Introduction (most notably the Renaissance). It becomes necessary to examine modern theories o f the fantastic in order to develop a synthesis o f ideas to support the fantastic as a mode within medieval romances. Based on the epistemological question o f uncertainty, the fantastic narrative in the six texts I examine follows a line proceeding, in simplified terms, from the etrange (in which an answer o f some sort, either rational or irrational, is provided) through the "pure" fantastic (in which the question o f uncertainty becomes itself the answer) to the merveilleux (in which the question in fact disappears from the realm of representation). 18 1. Defining the Fantastic A n examination o f the current state o f critical theory addressing the fantastic can establish a clear foundation from which to begin an analysis of the fantastic elements of medieval narrative literature and their influence upon the structure o f narratives. In this chapter, I review and analyze critical definitions o f the fantastic and then evaluate the relationship o f the fantastic to the merveilleux and the etrange.* Because o f the fantastic's contrast to the mimetic mode, I also look at the role o f mimesis in literature. Finally I discuss the distinction between the merveilleux and the fantastic within medieval texts. 1.1. The Fantastic as a Critical Term Historically, "fantastic" has meant many different things. In Greek, the term ^ avxacruKooc; indicates a "product of the imagination." 2 But in Latin, the adjective phantasticus means "imaginary" and the noun formphantasia denotes that which is made visible or visionary. 3 1 I am using Todorov's terminology, as these are the accepted critical terms. For more irrforrnation and a definition of etrange and merveilleux, see section 1.2.1. 2 Henry Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940) 1916. 3 The definition for phantasticus in French is "de songe, de l'illusion nocturne, irnaginaire, irreel" Albert Blaise, Dictionnaire Latin-Francais des auteurs chretiens (Strasbourg: Librairie des meridiens, 1954) 622-23. See also Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A New Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1892) 1367. 19 Defining the Fantastic What started out as a product o f the mind has been transformed into something visible before the eyes, much like a hallucination. In Old French, the term fantasie means a vision or imagination.4 It still refers to illusions and enchantment but now also encompasses product o f imagination, bringing about a merging o f the original Greek and Latin terminology. In the recent past, the fantastic was often associated with hallucinations, dream-like trances, and overactive imaginations. Defining the fantastic from a critical point o f view is much more problematic. In the past thirty years those who have been engaged in the discourse o f the fantastic have been aware o f a lack of common theoretical ground, failing to agree on whether the fantastic is a genre, a sub-genre, a mode, or an attitude towards reality. Todorov classifies it a genre by situating it as an intermediary stage between the two more established genres o f the etrange and the merveilleux.5 Irwin writes that the fantastic is a "violation o f what is generally accepted as possibility." 6 Thus the fantastic is seen as taking what is considered impossible and turning it 4 "fantasie: estre (/. est) une virtus qui conjuint les ymagenes sentievles ensanle, Court Glossaire 9543. les fantasies de diverses ymagenes (diversarum imaginum phantasmata), Job 338, 31. Autres visions merveilleuses ... Que Ten voit avenir sodaines; Savoir mpn, s'eles sunt foraines Ou sens plus en la fantasie, Ce ne declairerai ge mie, Rose 19202" Adol f Tobler and Erhard Lommatzsch, Altfranzosisches Worterbuch, vol . 3 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1954) 1627. 5 Todorov, Introduction..., 47'. 6 Irwin, The Game..., x. 20 Defining the Fantastic into verifiable reality.7 Louis Vax, in L 'Art et la litterature fantastiques, despairs of defining fantasy formally, and settles for a definition based on subject matter.8 According to Vax, fantasy is that literature which deals with the supernatural motifs o f werewolves, vampires, portions o f the human body which become detached and autonomously active, personality troubles (especially o f an extravagantly sexual sort), the invisible, human degeneration, and changes in causality, space, and time. Later, in La Seduction de I 'etrange, Vax moves away from thematic considerations o f what is fantastic and settles for a more modal definition: the fantastic is "une maniere de sentir."9 Richard Alewyn speaks o f the fantastic as the "Altersneurose der Aufklarung." 1 0 Taking a broader view, Jean Bellemin-Noel sees it as a form or an aesthetic mode, but also calls it a narrative technique and a manner of telling stories. 1 1 Irene Bessiere states that the fantastic is "1'experience imaginaire des limites de la 7 "Fantasy is that kind o f extended narrative which establishes and develops an antifact, that is, plays the game o f the impossible ..." ibid., ix. 8 Louis Vax, L 'Art et la litterature fantastiques (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1960)1-34. 9 Louis Vax, La Seduction de I'etrange (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1965) 72. 1 0 Richard Alewyn, Probleme und Gestalten (Frankfurt: Insel-Verlag, 1974) 355. See especially his chapter "Die Lust an der Angst," 307-30, which discusses the role o f desire turned to fear as a key to defining the fantastic. 1 1 Jean Bellemin-Noel, "Notes sur le fantastique (textes de Theophile Gautier)" Litterature, 8 (Dec. 1972) 3, 4, 7, 19. " A manner o f telling stories" is very close to being a mode according to one o f the definitions o f "mode" supplied by Prince. "Showing and telling are two different modes." Prince, Dictionary...., 54. 21 Defining the Fantastic raison." 1 2 Jean Baronian believes that it is not related to actions: "Le fantastique, a la verite, est plus un etat d'ame, un etat de coeur qu'un etat de fait." 1 3 Tobin Siebers writes that the fantastic moves toward the supernatural and away from the everyday: "Fantastic literature enshrines differences, highlighting those aspects o f experience that venture beyond the strictly human toward a supernatural realm." 1 4 He also emphasizes the exclusionary nature o f the fantastic.1 5 Charles Grivel categorizes the fantastic as that which is invisible and yet seen. 1 6 Francis Dubost writes that the fantastic in the Middle Ages is a "forme de I 'imaginaire dont l'expression litteraire releve d'une esthetique de la peur..." 1 7 Given such a wide variety o f opinions and definitions, the lack o f agreement becomes evident. The fantastic remains open to critical investigation as to its exact form and function in literature. 1 2 Bessiere, Le Recti fantastique..., 29. 1 3 Jean-Baptiste Baronian, La France fantastique de Balzac a Louys (Verviers: Editions Gerard, 1973) 10. 1 4 Tobin Siebers, The Romantic Fantastic (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984) 9. 1 5 "Moreover, the idea o f exclusion serves the critic o f fantastic literature particularly well because fantastic stories often reproduce exclusionary gestures. Even at its most superficial level, fantastic literature refers to ideas and characters existing outside o f natural laws." ibid., 27. 1 6 "Convenons d'appeler fantastique ce qu'on ne peut pas voir et que Ton voit pourtant..." Charles Grivel, Fantastique-fiction (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992) 11. 1 7 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques 9. (Emphasis in the original.) 22 Defining the Fantastic A notable issue remaining to be resolved for fantastic theory is the need to clarify the critical terminology, when so often "fantasy" and "fantastic" are taken to mean the same thing. Rosemary Jackson and Kathryn Hume, to name only two, 1 8 use the terms "fantasy" and "fantastic" interchangeably throughout their writings. Is the similarity in terms between fantasy and fantastic compelling enough to warrant a casual interchange? Theorists who use the two as a noun/adjective pair have been criticized by Nei l Cornwell for being imprecise and misleading. 1 9 In 20 t h-century terms, "fantasy" literature is frequently grouped together with science fiction rather than with the gothic or grotesque common to 19 t h-century fantastic literature. When applied to medieval narratives where there is no distinction between "fantastic" and "fantasy" literature, as denned within the context o f his reproach, Cornwell's point becomes moot. The modern concept o f "fantasy" (which generally refers to a narrative Jackson, Fantasy...; Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis...; See also Eric S. Rabkin, The Fantastic in Literature (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1976); Linda Hutcheon, Narcissistic Narrative: the Metafictional Paradox (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1980); Pierre Macherey, Pour une theorie de la production litteraire (Paris: F. Maspero, 1966); and Jean-Baptiste Baronian, La France fantastique... 9 "It may well be apparent by now that a certain inconsistency, not to say confusion, exists in the application hitherto o f the expressions 'the fantastic', 'fantastic' (as an adjective) and 'fantasy'." "Jackson and Hume are more problematical and require a slightly more detailed examination." "More culpable perhaps in this regard is Jackson. ... More seriously misleading - or perhaps misled - with regard to precision in this question is Hume." Ne i l Cornwell, "Critical Approaches to the Literary Fantastic: Definitions, Genre, Import," Essays in Poetics: The Journal of the British Neo-Formalist School 13.1 (1986): 19, 20, 21. 23 Defining the Fantastic which takes place solely in another world) is more readily associated with the critical term merveilleux.20 1.2. Theories of the Fantastic The term fantastic has often been used in a variety of ways to discuss everything from the supernatural to the sensational. Critical theories related to the fantastic abound and often are in conflict. In this section, I examine several of the prevalent theories of the fantastic, beginning with Tzvetan Todorov. Recent critics have raised the critical discourse concerning the fantastic to new heights, preferring to view it as a mode, which I discuss as well. I also examine the role of the reader in identifying the fantastic according to the theories put forth in several well-known works. 1.2.1. Todorov's Fantastic Todorov was the first who wrote about the fantastic as a unique movement within the larger body of narrative literature. He laid the groundwork for most modern critics who address the fantastic. Since any kind of literature can be most adequately defined by comparing it with other forms, it is useful to position the fantastic within the context of a larger organization, and briefly consider some of its neighboring literary manifestations. The merveilleux is discussed in detail in section 1.4 of this chapter, "The Merveilleux in Relation to the Fantastic." 24 Defining the Fantastic Todorov situated the fantastic in relation to two frequently used terms: the etrange and the merveilleux. For Todorov, etrange refers to mysterious occurrences that have natural causes, and yet are disquieting. I note without completely endorsing Todorov's critical definition o f the etrange: "Dans les oeuvres qui appartiennent a ce genre, on relate des evenements qui peuvent parfaitement s'expliquer par les lois de la raison, mais qui sont, d'une maniere ou d'une autre, incroyables, extraordinaires, choquants, singuliers, inquietants, insolites..." 2 1 Todorov associates merveilleux with the supernatural, fairy tales, and inexplicable events: "Dans le cas du merveilleux, les elements surnaturels ne provoquent aucune reaction particuliere ni chez les personnages, ni chez le lecteur implicite. ... On lie generalement le genre du merveilleux a celui du conte de fees ... le merveilleux pur, qui ne s'explique d'aucune maniere." 2 2 According to Todorov, the etrange is associated with a mimetic attempt to explain unusual phenomena, whereas the merveilleux is governed by its own laws o f plausibility and makes no attempt to explain the supernatural phenomena. There is an accepted harmony within the supernatural world characteristic o f the merveilleux, whereas the etrange excludes supernatural events. 2 1 Todorov, Introduction..., 51. 2 2 ibid., 59, 62. 25 Defining the Fantastic Todorov's approach suffers from a few self-imposed limitations. First, o f course, Todorov is primarily discussing the fantastic as a genre, but he is trying to establish both the nature o f the fantastic part or mood o f the better-known "fantasy" novel and the nature o f the fantastic novel qua fantastic novel. A s Robert Scholes says in his "Forward" to Todorov's The Fantastic, "Todorov ... seeks to examine both generic theory and a particular genre, moving back and forth between a poetics of the fantastic itself and a metapoetics or theory o f theorizing." 2 3 Todorov's theory of the fantastic is formed on features which are not consistent among a majority o f works that can be deemed fantastic (such as depending solely on the supernatural); and ignores features which are common among other fantastic works (such as the "otherworld" element, first discussed by Tolke in 2 4 and more recently developed by T. E . Little in his "Towards a Definition o f Fantasy" 2 5). Nonetheless, Todorov makes major contributions to the theory o f the fantastic. His discussion o f a tension caused by a reader's inability to decide between two incompatible explanations is a compelling description o f the effects of the fantastic. A reader must receive a sense o f a mood, a sense that the text calls either for the literary approximation o f fear, confusion, or ambiguity, or else for reasonable 2 3 Robert Scholes, "Introduction," The Fantastic. A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975) ix. 2 4 J. R. R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1965). 2 5 T .E . Little, "Towards a Definition o f Fantasy," Essays in Poetics 5 (1980): 66-83. 26 Defining the Fantastic detachment. One should be able to identify elements in the text that suggest or require particular responses among a range o f readers. Prior to Todorov, critics such as Howard Lovecraft, Roger Caillois, and Louis V a x 2 6 ignored the categories o f traditional literary genres and attempted (often successfully) to carve out a separate, isolated category for fantastic literature. Rather than examining the fantastic within the whole o f the literary tradition, they chose to limit the fantastic to a narrowly-defined movement in 19 t h-century literature—grouping together texts which often defy traditional categorization by virtue o f the inclusion o f grotesque, magical, horrific, or scientifically impossible motifs. These earlier studies, as Todorov observed, 2 7 simply drew up lists o f supernatural elements. But the categories inherited from these past critics no longer seem to fit the needs o f a new generation of critics who emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. More recent critics (including, Rosemary Jackson, Kathryn Hume, and Jean Molino) have continued Todorov's work by going beyond the mere categorization o f texts, focusing instead on the way the fantastic text compares to and fits into the mainstream o f Western literature. They have examined the way in which the structures, themes, and social contexts of narration are influenced by the inclusion of fantastic episodes. These critics view the fantastic as a 2 6 Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror...; Caillois, Anthologie...; Vax, L 'Art... 2 7 Todorov, Introduction..., 102. 27 Defining the Fantastic necessary counterbalance to the mimetic mode, and therefore the fantastic is able to transcend traditional genres, becoming a mode within (rather than a sub-category of) literature. A n additional issue is the degree to which the mimetic and the fantastic modes work together in the production o f narrative texts. Todorov made a considerable effort to explain what constitutes the fantastic before he moved on to a discussion o f how the fantastic is not mimetic. Some critics, notably Jackson 2 8 and Hume, 2 9 identify the fantastic as anti-mimetic, that is "unreal." But defining the fantastic as "not mimesis" does not explain what it is. Such a definition merely places us within a frame of reference to begin exploring the fantastic as it relates to mimesis. 1.2.2. Rosemary Jackson and the Fantastic as Social Repression Rosemary Jackson attempts to go beyond Todorov's definition o f the fantastic by examining the fantastic as a subversive force undermining society and as a means for dealing 2 8 "The fantastic is predicated on the category o f the 'real', and it introduces areas which can be conceptualized only by negative terms... It is this negative relationality which constitutes the meaning of the modern fantastic." Jackson, Fantasy..., 26. (Emphasis in the original.) 2 9 "I am saying that most literature includes fantastic elements, even as it includes mimesis." Hume, op. cit., 22. 28 Defining the Fantastic with that which has been repressed and therefore is unable to be expressed. 3 0 Jackson emphasizes the societal framework and ideological aspects of the fantastic, which she considers to be a mode, in the production o f literature.3 1 According to Jackson, readers are forced to reconsider all that they perceive as "normal" in a new and somewhat disturbing way. When calling the fantastic "a literature o f subversion" 3 2 she implies that the fantastic is a cultural phenomenon and intrinsically linked to the precepts of the society that produced it. In other words, the bonds o f social interaction are reflected within fantastic literature and debated upon via its production. 3 3 B y concentrating on the social backdrop o f the fantastic, Jackson intrinsically links (and therefore limits) the fantastic to a time and society which could have produced the proper climate for the fantastic, namely the 19 t h and 20 t h centuries. 3 0 "Structured upon contradiction and ambivalence, the fantastic traces in that which cannot be said, that which evades articulation or that which is represented as 'untrue' and 'unreal'." Jackson, Fantasy..., 37. 3 1 "...fantasy is a literary mode from which a number o f related genres emerge." ibid., 7. 3 2 ibid., 1. Referred to also in the book's subtitle. 3 3 "Like any other text, literary fantasy is produced within, and determined by, its social context. Though it might struggle against the limits o f this context, often being articulated upon that very struggle, it cannot be understood in isolation from it. [...] fantasy characteristically attempts to compensate for a lack resulting from cultural constraints: it is a literature o f desire, which seeks that which is experienced as absence and loss." ibid., 3. 29 Defining the Fantastic For Rosemary Jackson, "the issue of the narrative's internal reality is always relevant to the fantastic, with the result that the 'real' is a notion which is under constant interrogation." 3 4 Therefore, a reexamination of critical presuppositions and ways of representing reality is essential to a thorough discussion of the fantastic. Accordingly, reality provides the only theoretical framework by which the fantastic is judged. To define the fantastic would be to confine it to the realm o f the real world. Jackson states, "Fantasy re-combines and inverts the real, but does not escape it: it exists in a parasitical or symbiotic relation to the real. The fantastic cannot exist independently of that 'real' world which it seems to find so frustratingly finite." 3 5 Thus has the discourse on the fantastic been "framed" within the discourse o f reality. A somewhat self-evident and yet even more complex problem is that everyone seems to know what the fantastic is on a surface level, but at a deeper critical level to state that the fantastic is the equivalent o f "unreal", 3 6 as Jackson does, lacks the precision necessary for a serious discussion. There are many "unreal" aspects o f a given story that could be seen as merveilleux rather than fantastic. The details o f how and to what degree the fantastic in 3 4 ibid., 36. 3 5 ibid., 20. 3 6 ibid., 4; See also Gerhard Hoffmann, "The Fantastic in Fiction: Its 'Reality' Status, its Historical Development and its Transformation in Postmodern Narration," REAL: The Yearbook of Research into English and American Literature 1 (1982): 267-362; and Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis..., 21. 30 Defining the Fantastic medieval literature would have been perceived as non-mimetic are indeterminable. In the first place, we do not know what real thing (real in the author's or audience's opinions) an author might have been imitating: a report? a picture? an idea? In a Neo-Platonic culture an idea might have been more "real" than a physical object, so that i f the idea o f a dragon is "real," and "fantastic" means "unreal," then a dragon in literature cannot be fantastic in the sense of "unrealistic." And the medieval author may well have thought that dragons existed in nature, or had at one time existed in nature, so that it was an imitation o f what he or she believed to be reality. We can speculate; we can establish probability; but we cannot be sure enough to say, on the basis o f some definitive mimetic reality, "this feature is fantastic, in some critical sense o f the term" and "this feature is realistic, from a medieval viewpoint." Again the material leads to a conceptual dead-end when approached from a thematic methodology. It is necessary therefore to establish a clearer definition for "fantastic" as a critical term (compared to etrange and merveilleux) before examining any particular fantastic elements found in medieval narrative literature. The distinctions between the fantastic, the etrange, and the merveilleux are discussed in more depth later in section 1.4 o f this dissertation. 1.2.3. Kathryn Hume and the Fantastic as Altered Reality A long tradition o f marginalizing the fantastic in literature exists, as Kathryn Hume shows in her study, Fantasy and Mimesis?1 Due to the prevalence of mimetic traditions in literature, Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis..., 5-8. 31 Defining the Fantastic it is customary to dismiss fantasy and fantastic elements in narratives as unworthy of academic attention. There is a need to apologize for the fantastic, or condemn it out o f hand, 3 8 a need that presents fantasy literature as free-floating escapism, 3 9 child-like, and full o f wonder. 4 0 I believe this attitude has been primarily caused by a tendency to treat the themes and motifs o f the fantastic as a de facto definition, rather than by looking at the structure o f narrative texts for a more formalized approach to the question of what constitutes the fantastic. Hume proposes that literature is caught up in the dilemma o f the desire to imitate reality versus the need to alter that reality. 4 1 The fantastic, when contrasted to mimesis in literature, would present an alternate view o f the world. (I however propose in Chapter 2 that it is not just an alternate view but indeed an alternate world.) Mimesis confirms conventional views o f the world, whereas the fantastic implicitly denies them. Hume uses as one of her critical Lance Olsen, Ellipse of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Postmodern Fantasy. (New York: Greenwood, 1987) 15. Jackson, op. cit., 1. Clive S. Lewis, "Imagination and Thought in the Medieval Period," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, ed. Walter Hooper (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966)41-63. "It is truer to literary practice to admit that fantasy is not a separate or indeed a separable strain, but rather an impulse as significant as the mimetic impulse, and to recognize that both are involved in the creation o f most literature." Hume defines fantasy as "the deliberate departure from the limits of what is usually accepted as real and normal." Hume, op. cit., xi i . 32 Defining the Fantastic foundations the writings of Erich Auerbach, who has demonstrated the breadth of possibilities in representing reality. 4 2 The variety o f different assumptions and selections that goes into the creative process o f writing reveals that the pursuit o f mimesis is most often a reflection o f the author's cultural background. Hume agrees with Eco, who writes, "In every century, the way that artistic forms are structured reflects the way in which science or contemporary culture views reality." 4 3 Hume's work examines a very important aspect o f the fantastic, namely its opposition to accepted reality, yet her definition is far too simplistic to account for the complexity o f situations found in many texts containing fantastic elements. She establishes a one-to-one corollary for the fantastic and mimesis. In other words, there is a single standard of reality placed in opposition to a single concept of what is supernatural. She employs terms such as "consensus reality," relying primarily on 19 t h-century examples to support her opinions. This type of model restricts the fantastic to an inverse relationship o f "real vs. unreal." But to give 4 2 Auerbach devoted much o f his intellectual effort to exploring the nature o f representation in the late antique, medieval, and early modern periods; he conceived o f mimesis primarily as a formal function of the literary work. Auerbach thought o f literature as a kind o f representation that actualized phenomenal reality by means o f language. Thus he could argue that the basic goal o f Homeric style was "to represent phenomena in a fully externalized form, visible and palpable in all their parts, and completely fixed in their spatial and temporal relations." Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. Willard Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971) 6. 4 3 Eco, The Open Work..., 13. 33 Defining the Fantastic the fantastic an equal position with mimesis seems to be an unbalanced approach. Even a cursory survey shows us that the vast majority o f Western literature supports the mimetic view. But I believe there are sufficient examples of departures from mimesis to warrant a deeper examination. To state simply that the fantastic is the absence o f mimesis however is incredibly appealing because, to the average reader, the absence o f mimesis is a primary tool for the initial identification o f the fantastic. 1.2.4. Jean Molino and Fantastic Models Jean Molino finds Todorov's definition of the fantastic unsatisfactory. He criticizes Todorov's definition o f the fantastic as a type o f hesitation because it constitutes a psychological definition. Confining the fantastic to the notion o f hesitation excludes all structural analysis because the hesitation only lasts for a moment. Finally Molino rejects Todorov's premise because hesitation represents only a partial definition, ignoring other manifestations of the fantastic, such as fear or a sense of strangeness. "Enfin, la definition, loin d'etre « structurale », n'est qu'une definition partielle: l'hesitation n'est qu'un des modes, une des formes que prend le fantastique, . . . " 4 4 Molino asserts that a structural analysis o f a fantastic narrative is impossible i f one uses the criteria presented by Todorov. 4 5 In Chapter 2,1 4 4 Molino, "Trois modeles...," 21. 4 5 "L'ensemble ne constitue pas une analyse structurale, et encore moins une analyse scientifique. Une analyse structurale est-elle done impossible ? Certainement, si on entend la faire selon les principes poses par T. Todorov." Molino, art. cit., 25. 34 Defining the Fantastic present a structural model for the fantastic, where hesitation is only one of the symptoms o f the fantastic mode rather than a de facto definition. B y removing hesitation from the center o f the fantastic to its periphery, the discussion is broadened to include other aspects o f the fantastic. Aspects such as deception, alienation, and fear are evaluated along side o f hesitation rather than being subordinate to it. I f it is possible to acknowledge the fantastic as a mode (instead o f as a genre as Todorov did 4 6 ) , then one is freed from the constraints o f a narrowly-defined corpus. Accepting the fantastic as a mode solves one of the three problems identified above by allowing for the inclusion o f mimetic works (which also contain some degree o f fantastic elements) that would otherwise be excluded from a genre-based approach to the fantastic. 4 71 acknowledge their view o f the fantastic as a mode and it is in this sense that the term "fantastic" wi l l be used "II parait se placer plutot a la lirnite de deux genres, le merveilleux et Fetrange, qu'etre un genre autonome. ... Mais, d'abord, rien ne nous empeche de considerer le fantastique precisement comme un genre toujours evanescent." Todorov, Introduction..., 46, 47. See page 24 o f this dissertation. Nancy Trail is concerned "with the literary fantastic, but the broader aesthetic view lends support to a basic contention: the fantastic is constituted by the confrontation and interplay within the fictional world o f two alethically contrastive domains, the supernatural and the natural. For this reason, the literary fantastic is not a genre in its own right: it cuts across established genres, surfacing as short story, drama, novel, epos, ballad, and so on. It appears as well in such different period styles as romanticism, realism, and surrealism, to name only three." Nancy Trail, "Fictional Worlds...," 197. (Emphasis is mine.) 35 Defining the Fantastic henceforth. I therefore put aside any attempt to create a "fantastic genre" for medieval literature. 1.2.5. Dubost and the Fantastic in Medieval Texts Francis Dubost provides the first major work devoted to the examination o f fantastic aspects within medieval French literature. He examines various facets o f medieval composition which form the thematic foundation o f fantastic literature that is manifested much later in the Western literary tradition. He proposes to trace the roots o f fantastic literature back to the Middle Ages. He chooses this more "archaeological" approach in order to better acquaint himself with the traditions that inspired the writers o f the 19 t h century: "Observer d'une maniere plus precise les premieres manifestations litteraires de l'imaginaire noir, les decrire ensuite dans la perspective d'une archeologie du fantastique pour interroger les reseaux qui structurent en profondeur ces materiaux, tel est le triple cheminement que Ton se propose de suivre i c i . " 4 8 Dubost does not claim that there is a fantastic trend in medieval literature, per se. Instead, he states that medieval texts are the source from which future authors wi l l draw thematic inspiration. He concludes that while there is much that is merveilleux in medi-eval literature, the pure fantastic is difficult to find and occurs as a transient state rather than as an on-going condition. "Reduit a sa plus simple expression dans la question de fiance, [le Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 2. 36 Defining the Fantastic fantastique medieval] ne dure que le temps exige pour l'identification de la mer^eiHe."49 In other words, the characters in medieval compositions hesitate less and more freely accept the inexplicable events they find themselves in than those in 19 t h-century fantastic narratives.5 0 According to Dubost's evaluation o f the fantastic, hesitation occurs more as an afterthought than as a primary condition: it is a questioning o f the fantastic experience based on a post-event self-examination by the protagonist. The Queste del Saint Graal and the Perlesvaus are examined by Dubost in detail with a special emphasis on the significance of disorder caused by the fantastic, the need to re-establish order, and the refutation o f that imposed (and therefore unnatural) order. He proposes three distinct categories o f "fantastic disorder" in medieval literature: "le fantastique d'intimidation; le fantastique obsidional;" and "le fantastique essentiel." 5 1 Dubost concludes 4 9 ibid., 808. (Emphasis in the original.) 5 0 For example, Le Diable Amoureux (Jacques Cazotte), Aurelie (Gerard de Nerval) and La Venus d'llle (Prosper Merimee) have been identified as fantastic texts by Todorov in Introduction..., passim. 5 1 Dubost states that these three forms of fantastic are based on the subversion of language by the various agents of the other world (for example, the demon in the Queste del Saint Graal). " L a parole falsifiee" establishes a perverted sense o f virtue whereby the character, here Gauvain, is led into a situation that suddenly reverses itself into a subversion o f its previous semblance o f reality, ibid., 803-806. 37 Defining the Fantastic that, for medieval literature, to impose an order just for order's sake is to violate the spirit o f a time when people were more ready to accept the inexplicable. Dubost catalogues in detail the themes and motifs o f medieval literature that distinguish the boundaries between the real world and the otherworld. B y estabhshing the differences between the real world and otherworld, Dubost delineates where the fantastic is most likely to occur. Dubost therefore agrees with Todorov 5 2 that the fantastic is a catalyst that creates a frontier between two opposing world orders—reality (obedience to the known laws o f nature) and the supernatural (subversion of the known laws o f nature). Dubost postulates the existence o f an atmosphere of fear through the textual inclusion o f specific physical locations and descriptions; namely, the forest, crossroads, islands, and isolated castles. O f special note are "espaces morts et espaces des morts" 5 3 such as cemeteries, which force characters to face the ultimate unknown—death. Dubost espouses the concept of alterite54 as a medieval construct used in composition upon which nature authors may draw. This alterite encompasses the thematic category of the chance encounter with animals or people who are 5 2 See section 1.2.1 for a discussion o f Todorov's definition o f the fantastic. 5 3 ibid, 390 ff. 5 4 ibid, 426 ff. 38 Defining the Fantastic not o f this world and who cannot be classified according to the known laws of nature; included are fairies, giants, dragons, monsters, and other bestiary phenomena. Dubost's emphasis on the thematic is also evident in his study o f the fantastic in Yvain.55 Beginning his discussion with Calogrenant's tale, Dubost examines the narrative direction in Yvain as leading from the merveilleux to the fantastic by virtue o f a transformation o f the hero's relationship with the supernatural.5 6 The temporal and spatial axes o f the ailleurs and the autrefois, through references to Broceliande and the court o f Arthur, cause a double displacement in Calogrenant's tale which acts as a prologue to Yvain's adventure. However the parallel assertion that the story is true belies its merveilleux nature and sets up paradoxical conditions that lead Dubost to classify this narrative as fantastic. One o f Dubost's critical statements of the distinction between reality and the merveilleux actually emphasizes the ambiguity in what is perhaps the most important aspect of Yvain 's adventures. Dubost states, "Le statut de la merveille se situe alors en un lieu incertain, quelque 5 5 Francis Dubost, "Merveilleux et fantastique dans le Chevalier au Lion" Le Chevalier au lion: Approches d'un chef-d'oeuvre, ed. Jean Dufournet (Paris: Champion, 1988) 47-76. 5 6 "Avec Le Chevalier au Lion, Chretien transforme les themes et structures qu ' i l emprunte au merveilleux traditionnel jusqu'a les deconstruire subtilement. E n placant la merveille a distance critique, i l renverse le rapport que 1'homme entretenait avec le surnaturel tout en developpant une interrogation sur Yetrangete de I'Autre, selon un cheminement qui nous conduira du merveilleux vers l'imaginaire fantastique." Francis Dubost, art. cit., 48. (Emphasis in the original.) 39 Defining the Fantastic part entre verite et mensonge" (49-50). I f by "verite" Dubost refers to a measurable quality of reality and by "mensonge" the negation o f that reality, then I disagree that it is the merveilleux which resides between the two extremes. Rather, I believe that the fantastic may quite possibly be found in the uncertainty created by the confusion between truth and lies. In the adventure o f the fountain, what is key to Yvain's experiences is not truth versus lies, but that the truth is superseded by a new standard. The confusion that Yvain encounters between Arthur's court and Laudine's kingdom is embodied in the torrential storm of the fountain (and reoccurs later in the narrative as madness). This episode guides Yvain into a new existence, where his purpose as a member of Arthur's court is still valid but must be balanced with his new duties as the defender o f the fountain. So the question of "verite" versus "mensonge" is actually incidental to the true meaning o f the fountain adventure and to the story as a whole. A s a standard for determining the fantastic in Yvain, Dubost's clear-cut distinction between truth and lies is too inflexible to prove fruitful. 5 7 The fantastic could be more appropriately viewed as the ^determinate standards o f confusion and deception. In another article, "Yonec, le vengeur, et Tydorel, le veilleur," 5 8 Dubost makes a clearer distinction between the fantastic and the merveilleux when examining two lais. Yonec, by This lack o f a deeper basis for the fantastic is why I have not included Yvain as a part of the corpus for this dissertation. Francis Dubost, "Yonec, le vengeur, et Tydorel, le veilleur," Et c 'est la fin pour quoy sommes ensemble, ed. Jean-Claude Aubailly, Emmanuele Baumgartner, Francis Dubost, Liliane Dulac and Marcel Faure (Paris: Champion, 1993) 449^167. 40 Defining the Fantastic Marie de France, contains much that is supernatural and therefore merveilleux. According to Dubost, there is a parallel emphasis on the merveilleux feerique and the merveilleux chretien: "... l'alliance du merveilleux feerique et du merveilleux chretien s'est nouee pour faire echec aux lois et aux pouvoirs qui structurent le monde feodale ..." (453). Tydorel, an anonymous lai, also contains supernatural motifs, but the Christian aspects are totally lacking, indeed God is not even mentioned. For this tale, ambiguity is the hallmark of the fantastic according to Dubost. "Des lors, c'est tout le systeme de representation qui se trouve marque negativement et oriente vers une ambigui'te fantastique que la comparaison avec la transparence merveilleuse du lai cY Yonec permettra de mettre en evidence." 5 9 Dubost cites the anonymity o f the knight, his white horse, and his aquatic realm as proofs o f his ambiguous nature and progeny. 6 0 Tydorel's lack of sleep is also proof that his father was of a supernatural lineage. A l l o f these proofs are merveilleux in nature. But Dubost fails to mention the most significant (in my opinion) ambiguity in the text: Tydorel disappears into the lake and the reader never finds out i f he reaches his father's kingdom. The ending o f this lai is ambiguous on a structural level, and it is this level o f analysis that I wi l l address in Chapter 6. The presence o f what Dubost considers to be fantastic elements are restricted to a thematic discussion and do not in my opinion constitute a fantastic structure. In this article, Dubost emphasizes that which was lacking in his earlier study of Yvain. Namely, that the fantastic is an elusive and transitory state somewhere between reality and the supernatural, ibid., 454. 6 0 ibid., 455-459. 41 Defining the Fantastic 1.2.6. The Fantastic and the Implied Reader In order to progress beyond the concept o f the fantastic as a purely thematic category, it is necessary to examine the way in which the fantastic influences the acceptance or rejection o f supernatural events in the text (both internally by characters and externally by readers). From Vax ' s point o f view, the fantastic can be seen as permeating the entire history of literary and artistic production, 6 1 a position that is not held by all critics. According to Vax, the fantastic cannot be judged or understood, but rather must be accepted as a phenomenon perceived by the senses and experienced much as the tragic or comic modes are accepted. 6 2 Vax's concept o f modes reflects what Todorov calls the levels of reading, 6 3 where the reader must reject a certain type o f interpretation and instead accept the fantastic at face value, a type o f "willing suspension of disbelief." 6 4 Todorov's approach implies that, from a critical stance, one should be able to identify elements within the text that provoke a response 6 1 The opinion that the fantastic can be found in the literature o f any given period is a position that is developed in great depth by Kathryn Hume in Fantasy and Mimesis. 6 2 Vax, La seduction 19. 6 3 Todorov, Introduction..., 38. 6 4 Coleridge proposes the "suspension of disbelief as the definition o f "poetic faith," a type of causeway that leads us from one secure island of faith to another. Samuel T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, chap. 14,1. A . Richards, ed., The Portable Coleridge (New York: Viking, 1950). 42 Defining the Fantastic in most readers. The fantastic therefore would rely on the ability o f the critic to first identify those elements in the text that the author has chosen as departures from consensus reality and secondly to analyze how the reception o f those elements affects the act o f reading. However, Todorov deliberately avoids the tendency of directly linking the fantastic in literature to the reader's response, especially a response o f fear. Todorov addresses the issue o f the reader response theory by proposing an implied reader. He states that an implied reader, without a pre-existing familiarity with the location where the fantastic events take place, 6 5 has no reason to call into question the events as narrated. 6 6 For both the medieval and modern reader, the lack o f familiarity with the Celtic otherworld is a common factor. The use o f mimesis establishes an immediate link with the empirical reality familiar to its readers. The fantastic severs that link by undennining natural laws. Wolfgang Iser theorizes that when readers are forced to take an active role in the formulation o f meaning for a given text, they are acknowledging a basic divergence from the familiar that is woven into the text. "This active participation is fundamental to the novel; the title o f the present collection sums it up with the term 'implied reader'. This term incorporates both the prestructuring o f the potential meaning by the text, and the reader's actualization of this 6 5 In Chapter 2 of this dissertation, I examine the frontiers and boundaries o f the otherworld in order to define fantastic space. 6 6 Todorov, Introduction..., 36. 43 Defining the Fantastic potential through the reading process. It refers to the active nature o f this process—which wil l vary historically from one age to another—and not to a typology o f possible readers." 6 7 Iser refers to the discovery by the reader of the author's "prestructuring" as an ongoing process that is not linked historically to any particular audience. This active process is pursued by the reader as an attempt to (re)discover the author's encoded meaning. The author and the reader work in conjunction to produce meaning. Therefore according to Iser, it is not necessary for an implied reader to be a part o f the author's original intended audience, but rather what is necessary is a reader who can actively decode the authors prestructured meaning. 6 8 It is in this sense that I use the term "reader" to encompass both medieval and modern audiences. With the fantastic mode, there is a deliberate ambiguity in the details o f the supernatural events. This allows the reader a certain amount o f liberty (as well as uncertainty) in the interpretation o f the story. This uncertainty often engenders a sense o f dreaming or o f being caught in a soporific state where distmguishing between reality and the supernatural is at best difficult. 6 9 In spite o f Todorov's statement that it is not possible to define the fantastic in terms 6 7 Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974) xii . 6 8 "The fact that completely different readers can be differently affected by the 'reality' o f a particular text is ample evidence of the degree to which literary texts transform reading into a creative process that is far above mere perception o f what is written." ibid., 279. 6 9 "I would emphasize that, even though the dream had become by the Middle Ages a topos backed by a long learned tradition, recourse to the dream or the vision opens wide the gates to the flood o f the popular imagination. Monastic phantasms are situated at the 44 Defining the Fantastic of its opposition to the faithful reproduction o f reality, 7 0 the very tension which provokes hesitation is the ambiguity between a supernatural event and reality. I f a literary work truly exhibits the fantastic mode, then we should find on various levels consequences o f that ambiguous perception by the reader which characterizes the fantastic. 1.2.7. Fear as a Reader's Response Subsequent to Vax ' s La Seduction de I'etrange, many other critics, notably, Cail lois 7 1 and Penzoldt, 7 2 have cited evocation of fear in the reader as a significant indicator o f the fantastic in a text. In other words, the reader enters into the story by vicariously experiencing fear and crossroads o f this popular oneirism and the visionary apocalyptic tradition. Dreams, which can hardly be controlled by the Church, unfold freely in the imaginary universe o f the beyond." Jacques Le Goff, "Journeys in the Otherworld," Understanding popular culture. ed. Steven L . Kaplan (New York: Mouton Publishers, 1984) 31. 7 0 "Ainsi , i l n'est pas possible de definir le fantastique comme oppose a la reproduction fidele de la realite, au naturalisme." Todorov, op. cit., 40—41. 7 1 "Elle est d'abord unjeu avec la peur." Caillois, Images, images... (Paris: Jose Corti, 1965) 26. (Emphasis in the original.) See also Caillois' Au coeur du fantastique (Paris: Gallimard, 1965). 7 2 Peter Penzoldt, throughout The Supernatural in Fiction, tends to take the Jungian view by reducing the archetypal themes and motifs found in fantastic literature to the level o f the collective unconsciousness of social humanity trying to re-exert itself into everyday reality. That is, when presented with the fantastic in a story, a contemporary person is disturbed to find a certain amount of familiarity with the alterity of the subject presented, and is thus perversely attracted to the fantastic events being described. Peter Penzoldt, The Supernatural in Fiction (New York: Humanities Press, 1965). 45 Defining the Fantastic corifusion as he identifies more and more closely with the circumstances and experiences of the protagonist. Todorov states quite emphatically his position concerning this aspect of reader reaction: "II est surprenant de trouver, aujourd'hui encore, de tels jugements sous la plume de critiques serieux. ... L a peur est souvent liee au fantastique mais elle n'en est pas une condition necessaire."7 3 There is, however, an increasingly popular argument for including the reader's response in the critical discussion o f fantastic narratives. For example, Charles Grivel offers continued support for the tradition o f "universal fear" as the primary indicator o f the fantastic.7 4 There is a widely accepted tendency to view literature as a work o f art disassociated from the period in which it was created. However, a story can be viewed as a product of its time, and still be able to stand on its own merits, independent from its author and its historic moment o f creation. 7 5 7 3 Todorov, op. cit., 40. 7 4 Grivel devotes all o f Chapter 2, La Peur universelle, to fear in his discussion of the fantastic. Grivel, Fantastique-flction..., 107 ff. 7 5 "Modern criticism's increasing emphasis on narratology, theories o f signs and meaning, the rhetorical nature o f the literary text and its readiness to produce multiple and incompatible meanings, and especially the reader's contribution to the formation o f these meanings has largely influenced the revival o f the fantastic. [...] Indeed, the relative freedom of the fantastic from the constraints o f verisimilitude has pushed "the suspension o f disbelief advocated by Coleridge to new extremes, thus allowing the fantastic story to encompass elements previously seen as disparate, heterogeneous, or even contradictory." Ora Avni , "Fantastic Tales," A New History of French Literature, ed. Denis Hollier (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989) 675. 46 Defining the Fantastic In direct contrast to Todorov's definition of the fantastic, what is being put into question here is neither the character's reactions nor the narrator's commentary, but the reader's need to distinguish between what happened and what might have happened. At various moments, the narrative offers what appear to be two simultaneous stories: the supernatural and the mimetic. The reader participates in the narration by being forced to provide a reasonable explanation of the events narrated. There is a lack o f narrative comment on the events being narrated. The tales become self-referential in their ability to mirror plot lines, characters, and probable interpretations, which allows the narrator to present a double view o f the intrigue and expands the number of possible resolutions. But the reader response approach raises an obvious, yet often ignored, question: H o w can a consistent, yet flexible definition o f the fantastic be formulated which accommodates the diversity o f texts that are considered to be fantastic? The reader's abilities should not be the determining factor in deciding whether or not the fantastic exists. Quite the contrary—the author should use the fantastic mode to affect the reader's ability to enter into the character's experiences. Clayton Koelb examines the issue o f disbelief, the reader's and also the writer's. Concerning fantastic episodes and the reader's interpretation o f them, he writes, "The reader cannot know with certainty how to 'explain' the events of the fiction." 7 6 While a reader can participate in the fantastic by interacting with the narrative, only the author can incorporate 7 6 Clayton Koelb, The Incredulous Reader: Literature and the Function of Disbelief (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984) 25. 47 Defining the Fantastic within a story the elements necessary to create the fantastic. Therefore, while the reader's response to a narrative may be a symptom o f or a reaction to the fantastic mode, one cannot rely on the reader as the sole defining standard for the fantastic. There are three unresolved issues related to the usage o f the word "fantastic" as a critical term: how to account for the presence of the fantastic in mimetic texts; the relationship o f the fantastic to reality and the supernatural; and the confusion between the fantastic and the merveilleux. To gain a better perspective on the ambiguous nature of the fantastic, I now examine its neighboring categories: first mimesis and then the merveilleux. 1.3. Mimesis and the Fantastic The problem o f defining the fantastic as a critical term is complicated by the need to account for examples that exceed the accepted definition o f the fantastic. H o w does one deal with fantastic episodes in minor works that are normally excluded from critical discussions o f the fantastic?7 7 For example texts such as Amadas et Ydoine contain episodes which offer considerable possibilities for critical examination. Yet there remain to this day few serious Using the concepts o f possible-worlds semantics, Nancy Trail uses a typology o f modes o f the fantastic based on two criteria: the interaction o f two alethically contrastive domains, the supernatural and the natural, and the supernatural domain's existential status, determined by authentication. Two questions are therefore addressed: how do we distinguish fantastic from non-fantastic texts (and by implication the episodic from the fully integrated), and how do we distinguish one fantastic text from another? Trail, "Fictional Worlds...," 196-210. 48 Defining the Fantastic discussions o f this story and o f other narratives which contain blatantly fantastic scenes. When dealing with a work that contains unrealistic elements, the tendency has been to apologize for or explain away anything that does not fit within the confines o f acceptable, mimetic categories. Often the results of this apologetic stance are that many works which contain a few fantastic elements and episodes are excluded from consideration because they don't clearly fall within the accepted definition of the fantastic. In the previous two sections, it was seen that most definitions for the fantastic revolve around a few common elements: the use of supernatural themes and motifs, the presence o f contrasting world views, hesitation and the evocation o f fear in the reader. Also, some theories combine the concepts of fantasy and the fantastic into the same definition. Another aspect of the debate surrounding mimesis presents itself in what Kathryn Hume defines as "consensus reality, the reality we depend on for everyday action." 7 8 She suggests that in any historical period, most people would accept some things as real and reject others as unreal. H o w then does one determine what the consensus at any given time would have been? First o f all, how can one know what a medieval author considered to be real? In an age when the natural world was to some degree viewed as a reflection of the spiritual, angels and demons would not have necessarily violated the accepted concept o f reality. Or, for example, in a neo-Platonic culture, ideas may be seen as more real than physical objects. Plato and Aristotle 7 8 Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis..., x i . 49 Defining the Fantastic rejected non-mimetic literature, but what i f they were wrong to assume that mimesis was the only approach to writing? For certainly not all writing can be categorized as strictly mimetic. Robert Scholes writes, "It is because reality cannot be recorded that realism is dead. A l l writing, all composition, is construction. We do not imitate the world, we construct versions o f it. There is no mimesis, only poiesis." 7 9 In this section I examine an additional dimension o f fantastic theory, namely the contrast o f the fantastic mode with the rnimetic mode of discourse. First, I wi l l briefly discuss the history o f mimesis in order to have an understanding of why the fantastic has been traditionally marginalized or rejected outright. 1.3.1. Reality and Realism Since the time o f Aristotle and Plato, 8 0 theory o f the representation o f reality, known as "mimesis," has shaped the way reality has been represented in literature. The saying " A l l art is but imitation of nature" 8 1 is a well-known maxim. Mimesis is a long-standing tradition that the 7 9 Robert Scholes, Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future (Notre Dame: University o f Notre Dame Press, 1975) 7. 8 0 Plato, in the third book of the Republic, uses mimesis in the sense o f impersonation (Republic 3. 392d and ft) ; in the second book o f the Laws, however, he mentions the theory that art is imitation as an obvious truth accepted by poet, actor, and audience alike (Laws 2. 668b-c). Aristotle agrees with Plato when he says that poetry is imitation (Poetics 1. 1447a). He states that this view can be taken for granted and made the basis for the differentiation of poetry into genres by the differences in the objects, means, and manner o f their imitation. 8 1 Seneca, Epistles 65,3 trans. R. M . Gummere, J. W. Basore W. H . Rouse, and F. J. Miller, Loeb Classical Library, V o l . 1 (New York: Putnam's, 1920) 445. 50 Defining the Fantastic Medieval and Renaissance worlds were well acquainted with. For example, John o f Salisbury, in Book 1, chapter 14 o f the Metalogicon (1159), defines grammar as "an imitation o f nature." 8 2 Accordingly any writing, by its nature, is assumed to be mimetic. Hermannus Alemannus, in 1256, translated Averroes of Cordoba's commentary on Aristotle's Poetics, thereby ensuring the mimetic a place in late medieval critical thought. But literature has always been much more than a basic description o f the world and its rules. Writers frequently make deliberate departures from describing the known world in the process o f composing fiction. The definition o f mimesis has been the subject of long-standing debates: Does it help to fix an image o f objective reality in the mind o f the reader to show how the physical substance o f the world really is? Or does it rather demonstrate the performative role o f artist and viewer, speaker and reader, in determining reality as a subjective experience o f the world? And i f mimesis is subjective, based on the author's ability to communicate his experiences, how does one distinguish between the concrete facts o f reality and the author's opinions, impressions, and value judgments that create an atmosphere of realism? 8 2 John o f Salisbury, The Metalogicon: A Twelfth-Century Defense of the Verbal and Logical Arts of the Trivium, trans. Daniel D . McGarry (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University o f California Press, 1955) 38—41. 51 Defining the Fantastic 1.3.2. "Scientific " Reality Fantastic theory often depends on a distinction between reality and the supernatural, yet without addressing (or even acknowledging) the problem of the amorphous nature, or changing definition, o f the real, either assuming or stating—usually the former—a modern approach to perceiving reality, and a consensus in that perception. Lance Olsen calls this blind spot "the ethnocentric bias at the heart o f most attempts to explain fantasy."8 3 A s a result o f equating reality with the scientifically verifiable, the supernatural consists o f whatever is not scientifically verifiable, including the entire spiritual world—angels, demons and God. Sartre, for example, divides fantasy into two types: in any period in which religious faith was prominent, the fantastic was merely escapist or didactic—and hence trivial and unsuitable as literature; in a secular period however, the fantastic acquires a valuable social function and some concurrent literary status.8 4 Even a medievalist, Kathryn Hume, with an approach to the fantastic that should allow a focus on fantastic elements within works o f medieval literature, reverts to modern assumptions and mainly modern examples in her practical applications. H o w then can one establish a baseline for "reality" as experienced by the medieval audience? I f Hume's concept o f "consensus reality" is applied to the 12 t h and 13 t h centuries, it 8 3 Lance Olsen, Ellipse of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Postmodern Fantasys (New York: Greenwood, 1987) 17. 8 4 Jean-Paul Sartre, "'Aminadab' ou du fantastique considere comme un langage," Situations 1 (1947): 123-25. 52 Defining the Fantastic becomes necessary to examine what the medieval audience would have accepted as "real" and how they viewed their world. In modern terms, reality is based on scientifically identifiable phenomena that form and inform the world view as rational. Day-to-day reality is based on a causal logic, where for every event there is an identifiable action that produced the observed results. In spite o f recent efforts, modern science does not begin to address the sum o f reality. In the cultural milieu o f the Middle Ages, both the logical and the irrational are attributed to the work o f the same divine author. Therefore, it becomes necessary to investigate the way in which reality is interpreted. As Irene Bessiere has pointed out, the definition o f reality for any given period is a byproduct o f cultural and social circumstances. 8 5 Reality is composed o f people, nature, the world, objects, causes and effects. Yet it is the representation o f those elements and the values placed upon them that defines reality for a given culture. 8 6 This type o f values-based idealism forms the framework for realism in the Middle Ages . 8 7 The most revealing texts o f the 12 t h 8 5 Bessiere, Le Recit fantastique..., 31. 8 6 "[0]ne was free to consider the nature o f medieval discourse as a manifestation o f a culture to be reconstructed afresh." Stephen Nichols, "The N e w Medievalism: Tradition and Discontinuity in Medieval Culture," The New Medievalism, Ed . M . S. Brownlee, K . Brownlee and S. Nichols (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)2. 8 7 "Now, a too systematic idealism (this is what realism meant in the Middle Ages) gives a certain rigidity to the conception of the world." Huizinga, The Waning..., 195. 53 Defining the Fantastic and 13 t h centuries for defining reality are quasi-scientific treatises such as L 'Image du monde.u A t the most mundane level, the purpose o f such encyclopedic works is to associate the name o f an object with its physical description. This implies that all things can be catalogued and described with words, in other words to represent reality through a text. But these didactic texts are often based on oral descriptions, as the writer may have never seen what is being described. Therefore the implicit contract between writer and reader is that the words are a faithful reproduction o f reality. I f the writer has not seen first-hand the majority o f these objects, then it is highly possible that his descriptions wil l contain distortions. Dubost describes this phenomenon as follows: " A ces donnees purement livresques s'ajoutent souvent des elements fabuleux incorpores a la masse des connaissances et confondus avec elles, des informations rapportees par des voyageurs avec toutes les deformations que Ton peut imaginer, ainsi qu'un ensemble de croyances dont i l est difficile de preciser Porigine. C'est dire que la representation du reel est rarement le fruit de l'observation ou de l'experience, mais le resultat de toute une serie de refractions ideologiques et de contaminations accidentelles." 8 9 This "data collecting" about the real world often produces results that are subtle and yet have a profound impact on medieval societal views o f the world. What the medieval audience relies on for scientific truth is in all likelihood a deformed version of reality. 8 8 Gossuin de Metz, L 'Image du monde, ed. Carl Fant (Lausanne: O. H . Prior, 1913). 8 9 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 169. 54 Defining the Fantastic 1.3.3. Reality and Bretagne Another approach to defining reality is to examine the text's content for internal standards. The use o f Bretagne as a primary setting for narrative fiction is a well-established motif for 12 t h- and 13 t h-century authors. Bretagne is both vague and precise: it refers to areas in France and Great Britain as well as the legendary realm where Celtic tales are situated. The matiere de Bretagne produces texts in which encounters with the otherworld are high-frequency events. The use o f such Celtic settings provides a mildly familiar background for supernatural activity: a character from another world enters the Celtic world and interacts with the protagonist. Many authors, such as Marie de France and Chretien de Troyes, use Bretagne as the locale from which the main character travels to another world or realm where the supernatural events may occur. Therefore, I define the real world as the literary Bretagne, the standard by which reality and truth are measured in medieval romance texts of the 12 t h and 13 t h centuries. 1.4. The Merveilleux in Relation to the Fantastic A story may contain elements that are merveilleux by virtue o f exotic details; supernatural objects, animals, or people; or by the inclusion o f devices that were undeveloped at the time the story was written. Most frequently, critics avoid the issues surrounding supernatural elements in medieval literature by labeling monsters, fairies, and unrealistic objects as merveilleux without a pause in the scholarly debate at hand. But can one really place such diverse elements in medieval literature as the fairy lover in Lanval or the marvelous horse in Doon in the same category as the cemetery in L 'Atre perilleux or the dark knight in Amadas 55 Defining the Fantastic et Ydoine? The first two are positive, non-threatening examples o f the supernatural; the latter two evoke a sense o f fear. What popularly distinguishes the fantastic from the merveilleux is a sense o f fear and estrangement when one is confronted by the supernatural. Therefore, i f one were to accept fear as the primary criterion for the fantastic, the latter two examples would be fantastic, while the first two would fall into the merveilleux category. 9 0 According to Todorov, a narrative that is presented as fantastic and by its end turns into the merveilleux is the closest to the pure fantastic9 1 in that the boundary between the two is always ambiguous yet still allows readers to decide for themselves. Therefore a reexamination o f the first two examples, Lanval and Doon, may show that the fantastic is initially present and is transformed into the merveilleux by the end o f the story. 1.4.1. A Iternate Order and Chaos Dubost distinguishes between the merveilleux and the fantastic based on the way the text initially treats the supernatural elements: " D u point de vue structurel, l'opposition principale entre recit merveilleux et recit fantastique, tient a la position originale que chacune de ces formes narratives attribue au surnaturel dans la syntaxe du recit." 9 2 Dubost relies on the 9 0 These narratives are examined in greater detail in Chapters 3-6 o f this dissertation. 9 1 Todorov, Introduction..., 57. 9 2 Dubost, op. cit., 130. (Emphasis in the original.) 56 Defining the Fantastic paradigmatic nature o f the text to reveal the merveilleux, while the actantial sequences are revealed by the presence o f the supernatural. The fantastic arises when the hero or another character, in confronting the supernatural, must of necessity question the narrator's version o f the story. 9 3 Dubost agrees with Roger Caillois who, writing about fairy tales, asserts that the merveilleux constitutes a world where magic and enchantments are the rule, rather than the exception. Supernatural events neither shock nor produce fear: the supernatural is the reigning order. 9 4 To the contrary, the fantastic ignores all the rules and is "une agression interdite, menacante, qui brise la stabilite d'un monde dont les lois etaient jusqu'alors tenues pour rigoureuses et immuables." 9 5 The fantastic does not produce an alternate order, but instead results in apparent chaos, a negation of established order. 1.4.2. The Fantastic as a Paradox I f the text initially treats the supernatural elements as a contradiction to established order, then it may be seen as a paradox. Charles Grivel uses the term orthodoxe merveille in his discussion of the paradoxical nature o f a supernatural episode in narratives: "Ainsi , 9 3 ibid, 131. 9 4 "Le feerique est un univers merveilleux qui s'ajoute au monde reel sans lui porter atteinte ni en detruire la coherence. Le fantastique, au contraire, manifeste un scandale, une dechirure, une irruption insolite presque insupportable dans le monde reel..." Caillois, Au coeur..., 8. 9 5 ibid, 9. 57 Defining the Fantastic paradoxalement — mais c'est un paradoxe simple ! — , Pimpossibilite meme de ce qui m'arrive dans le conte en demontre la solvabilite. [...] Quelle chance d'avoir un imaginaire complice, meme le pire est serviable ! "96 For Roger Caillois, the relationship between fantastic and merveilleux is also based on a paradox 9 7 where the supernatural found in myths and fairy tales is no longer acceptable, yet cannot be dismissed. While myths codify and uphold social values, the fantastic, as Jackson points out, subverts social order. 9 8 When common sense and the supernatural are in conflict, the fantastic is present. Paradoxical situations are also indicative of an unresolved conflict in the narrative plan. The presence o f a paradoxical situation (often embodied in a particular character) engenders structural openness in the narrative. For example, ambiguity, fear and hesitation all work against the obtainment o f a clear and definitive answer to resolve the conflict. In a fantastic adventure, the deferment or the prolonging o f the conflict creates a sense o f disorder surrounding the paradoxical element. While the paradox creates chaos, it also highlights the lack o f a real-world solution, giving the person or events associated with the paradox a sense 9 6 Grivel, Fantastique-Fiction..., 237. (Emphasis in the original.) 9 7 "Le fantastique suppose la solidite du monde reel, mais pour mieux la ravager." Caillois, Images, images..., 19. 9 8 "Undoing the unifying structures and significations upon which social order depends, fantasy functions to subvert and undermine cultural stability." Jackson, Fantasy..., 69. 58 Defining the Fantastic of otherness. Resolving the paradox dispels the ambiguity and otherness while also bringing closure to the narrative. Unti l the paradox is resolved or made to fit into the real world's ordering principles, that portion of the narrative structure lacks closure. Therefore as long as the paradox remains, the fantastic persists. It has been shown that the terms merveilleux and fantastic denote two separate, yet inextricably entwined, concepts in literature. The critics I discussed above agree that the merveilleux represents an alternate world view, with its own integrity and internal system o f laws. The fantastic subverts and undermines the laws o f both the real and supernatural worlds by presenting the conflict between the two worlds. 7.5. A Typology of the Fantastic The fantastic, despite critical assertions that it could not exist before the 19 t h century, is alive and well in French literature of the medieval period—but not exactly where or how one might expect. The medieval penchant for preserving information, even questionable information, has contributed to a modern sense that medieval opinions about the real world cannot be trusted: we might feel that distinctions in medieval literature between reality and the supernatural are either obscure or irrelevant, and conclude that the fantastic is impossible to discern. Reserving judgment, however, does not imply lack of judgment, and a taste for the sensational is not an exclusively modern phenomenon. The medieval mind was at least as complex and varied as the modern mind, which is reflected in the literature it produced. 59 Defining the Fantastic The most obvious difficulty with previous critical approaches to the fantastic in medieval literature is that the treatment o f odd or unusual circumstances, strange events, and disturbing characters has become a de facto definition for the fantastic o f any given period, and, for medieval literature, the motifs associated with the unusual and supernatural have already been relegated to the realm o f fairy tales or the merveilleux. Problems arise when such a focus forces the inclusion o f mimetic reality within the definitions o f "fantastic" so that the varied degrees o f unreality are misconstrued as being part and parcel of the truly supernatural. In other words, there is a tendency to ignore the mildly disturbing as part o f the otherworld without distmguishing degrees o f nuances leading from the scientifically verifiable to the blatantly supernatural. Critics such as Todorov and Jackson have been content to dismiss the literature o f the medieval period as unsuitable for the fantastic due to their unwillingness to view the question from a more ontologically-based point o f view. Rather than worry about whether a character or object is or was perceived as "real", one can focus on textual evidence for structural openness, ambiguity, and the deliberate inclusion of multiple encoded resolutions. Such an approach lets us take seriously the material which medieval French literature takes seriously, providing a way to respect the integrity o f the text. It also permits discriminating among various potentially fantastic episodes in a text, particularly by providing a way o f accounting for a difference in the effect that such superficially similar episodes have. I f one were to place all the unrealistic elements together, with lack o f realism as the common denominator, an effective approach for accounting for noticeable differences in literary impact would be missed. I f instead the question o f reality is Defining the Fantastic put aside as a peripheral issue, then it is possible to approach the text with a view to deterrnining the ways in which the author has provided for us as readers to comprehend the various structures and messages o f the text. When one looks at theories o f the fantastic, there is agreement that a lack of realism, although the definitive feature of the fantastic in a popular sense, is both too ontologically problematic to be useful and insufficient to explain the different effects the fantastic has on readers. Although some theories focus on the lack o f realism as a critical benchmark, most focus instead on conflicts, ambiguities, and tensions inherent in fantastic texts. The fantastic mode does not result from a lack of realism, but conceptual ambiguity (a blending o f borders and boundaries that denies or defies an orderly, hierarchical understanding of the world). A s a mode, the fantastic presents a continuum o f expression within the text rather than being an identifiable element connected to themes, genres, or motifs. There are many themes that are symptomatic o f the fantastic mode, such as fear, hesitation, and uncertainty. The fantastic is a mode o f writing that destabilizes the semantics o f language. That destabilization occurs on a semiotic level, where the use of language that is subversive undermines the reader's ability to believe what is being recounted. I f one were to examine the text and its context for semiotic evidence o f language" and for structural deviations, then it would be possible to escape the 9 9 Semiotics, according to A . J. Greimas, describes the elementary structure of signification and is logically represented in the three relationships o f contradiction, contrariety, and complementarity as formalized by the semiotic square (shown in Appendix A of this dissertation). 61 Defining the Fantastic need to determine what was "real" for a remote period. The lack o f reality becomes peripheral to the fantastic. The "unreal" is particularly misleading for medieval literature, where the merveilleux maintains such a prominent tradition. The presence of merveilleux is also misleading in that the fantastic is most likely to transform into the merveilleux in narratives from subsequent centuries. 1 0 0 From the preceding discussion of the critics quoted, I arrive at a thematic definition o f the fantastic that contains three features: the presence o f a supernatural world, ambiguity, and fear. I accept these definitions as valid on a thematic level. However, it should be possible to discover an element common to all these conditions within fantastic texts—a definition o f the fantastic that arises from the structure o f a text rather than relying on thematic details. The presence o f the supernatural world is the prerequisite element from which a structural model may be derived. For without the supernatural world, there is no cause for fear and hesitation. The interaction of two opposing worlds—real and supernatural—reveals a common narrative program beneath which an underlying structural model may exist. This study so far has concentrated on the theoretical questions surrounding the fantastic and wil l now turn to the task o f extracting the consistent structural features which make a fantastic interpretation possible. 100 For example, by the 13' century, the various Grail texts present the story o f Perceval's adventure as a mystical experience, discarding all o f the ambiguity o f Chretien's original tale for the symbolism o f divine mysteries. 62 2. A Structural Model for the Fantastic In order to establish a more stable foundation for the study o f the fantastic, I propose that an examination o f the underlying structure o f narratives is necessary. In this chapter, I quantify the need for a one-to-many model by presenting "otherness" as an organizing principle as a means to account for the variety o f supernatural events in medieval texts. Then I summarize some o f the most popular models for the fantastic. I present an additional criterion for the identification o f the fantastic within a text, namely that the narrative presents a number o f plausible and implausible resolutions without choosing between them—in other words, the structure of the narrative is open-ended and lacks the characteristic "happy ending" associated with fairy tales.11 also propose a new model for the fantastic which allows for a more encompassing view o f the interaction between the real and supernatural worlds, namely that the worlds create overlapping spheres of authority rather than merely being in a tangential relationship to one another. Edmund Little writes, "The happy ending is not a descriptive feature o f many fantasy worlds and should hardly be made prescriptive." Little, "Towards a Definition of Fantasy...," 67. 63 A Structural Model for the Fantastic 2.1. Otherness—an Organizing Principle In the previous examination o f critical theories related to the fantastic, it was shown that the fantastic has been most commonly associated with three characteristics: the presence o f a supernatural otherworld, ambiguity, and the evocation o f fear in a character or the implied reader when confronted with the otherworld. Critics, most notably Kathryn Hume, have also contrasted the fantastic with mimesis, where the presence of the "unreal" is indicative o f a fantastic episode. But these descriptions o f the fantastic have proven only partially satisfactory as a basis for examining the function o f the fantastic within narratives. These definitions are based on an examination o f what the fantastic is not—it is not "real." The negative aesthetics o f such approaches confine the fantastic to being neither the subject nor the object, but the lacunae in a text. The development o f a more inclusive model for the fantastic is necessary. When one speaks of the supernatural, many images come to mind—primarily images o f strange places populated by unusual people, where extraordinary events dominate the experience o f characters creating a sense of "otherness." Obviously otherness takes many different forms in 12 t h- and 13 t h-century romance literature. Otherness provokes reactions such as fear, hesitation, confusion, ambiguity and lack of direction. Rather than grant undue significance to any one o f these types of otherness, one must begin by recognizing otherness as a minimal unit o f signification susceptible o f identification according to specific criteria. In terms o f the following model, otherness is characterized by the condition o f "Appearing + Not Real," or "Delusion." The normal differentiation between what appears real and what is not real becomes blurred. We see that otherness results from a confusion between True and False, 64 A Structural Model for the Fantastic in that the two categories overlap. This model is articulated in terms o f the opposition between reality and mere appearances: True Secret Not Appearing 4 Delusion • Not Real False Figure 2.1—Organizing model for /otherness/ True = Real + Appearing False = Not Real + Not Appearing Secret = Real + Not Appearing Delusion = Not Real + Appearing We now have a classeme2 called /otherness/, illustrated in Figure 2.1, which we may use as a means o f identifying systems o f signs in 12 t h- and 13 t h-century romance narratives that use the same basic sigriifying configuration to organize specific varieties of/otherness/. Hesitation, ambiguity, and fear now become just two o f many possible symptoms o f the fantastic, rather than its definition. It is no longer possible to distinguish surface appearances from inner reality: What appears true may not be real. The deceptive nature of /otherness/ causes a misinterpretation o f signs, and language itself becomes the deceiver.3 Whether in the real world or the otherworld, the hero no longer has a firm basis upon which to judge his experiences. The objective is to identify as many types o f /otherness/ in a variety o f texts as 2 "In Greimassian terminology, a contextual seme as opposed to a nuclear or basic one; a seme educed by the context in which it recurs." Prince, Dictionary..., 13. 3 For an in-depth analysis of deception, see Donald Maddox, Semiotics of Deceit: The Pathelin Era (London and Toronto: Associated University Press, 1984). 65 A Structural Model for the Fantastic possible by showing that their uniquely intricate structures are founded by the same uniform configuration of /otherness/. While medieval readers were more willing than their modern counterparts to accept the existence of the merveilleux, the acceptance of /otherness/ does not necessarily reduce its contrast to reality. Therefore, I believe that the presence of the unreal in a medieval narrative is not satisfactory as the sole standard for the fantastic. Veridiction, which concerns the manner in which truth is communicated, can be seen in the formation of /otherness/ around which delusions are organized. That which appears to be true by virtue of its being describable is actually not real. On a semantic level, it becomes possible to identify systems of signs that create /otherness/ and result in fear, hesitation, or ambiguity. The points at which /otherness/ can be most clearly identified are indicative of the fantastic mode and are founded on the same uniform configuration of contrary opposition between reality and deception. When there is a resurgence of /otherness/ within the bounds of reality or on the fringes of the acceptable, a clustering effect (in a particular episode) occurs that undermines the basis of sound judgment on the part of the hero. In other words, when the incidences of /otherness/ are surfacing in the same locale or in association with the same person and scenario, then the fantastic mode is operative. 2.2. The One-to-Many Model of Mimesis and the Fantastic When discussing critical definitions of the fantastic in Chapter 1,1 examined Kathryn Hume's one-to-one relationship between mimesis and the fantastic, which she characterizes as "reality" and the "unreal." While Hume's one-to-one model is sufficient when applied to the modern fantastic text, I suggest that a one-to-many correlation of reality to the supernatural 66 A Structural Model for the Fantastic provides a more inclusive model for the discussion at hand, that is applying fantastic theories to medieval narrative literature. This approach frees the discussion o f the fantastic from its 19 t h-century association with technological anomalies and scientific improbability. The one-to-many model also accounts for the subtleties of medieval supernatural elements as opposed to the blatantly unreal supernatural elements found in 19 t h-century fantastic texts. Such a relationship permits a range o f supernatural events, rather than relying upon a simple inverse (or negative) relationship to the mimetic. With this more flexible model, it becomes possible to account for varying degrees o f fantastic elements within a text, because it becomes possible to identify varying degrees of supernaturalness in those elements. In this proposed model, the supernatural aspects of a character's experiences are defined within and by the parameters o f the story rather than by the social context of the writer. The one-to-many model frees us from the need to justify traditional definitions o f reality and period-specific definitions o f what is or is not considered supernatural. A critic can instead investigate a range of supernatural aspects within a text rather than trying to justify speculations on what a medieval reader considered to be mimetic. I therefore reject the exclusiveness o f Hume's socio-historic approach to the "mimesis vs. fantastic" debate for a broader, more flexible view of the fantastic mode within Western literature. 2.2.1. Poesis and the One-to-Many Model A lingering problem with prior critical approaches to the fantastic is their tendency to treat unusual animals and magical objects as typical signifiers o f a potentially fantastic element 67 A Structural Model for the Fantastic within a text. Focusing on those types of objects intensifies the fundamental problem of delineating between mimetic realism and the fantastic. Such a focus forces the discussion to concentrate on things that have a degree of unreaUty along with the blatantly supernatural objects of the merveUleux simply in terms of their common lack of reality. If the association of places and objects with the fantastic is meant to define "unrealistic," then the definition must continually change to keep pace with changes in society and technology. This debate too is rendered moot by the use of the one-to-many model, in that the text (not society) defines the standards for the realistic and supernatural aspects it contains. The text being studied is therefore auto-referential and liberated from the need to simply record events according to societal expectations of what is literature. Scholes implicitly supports the one-to-many model for the fantastic within medieval texts.4 To the degree that those many constructed versions succeed in imitating the world, the text achieves a purer degree of mimesis. Conversely, the more supernatural a text is, the further away it moves from the mimetic mode and the closer it approaches the fantastic mode. Scholes highlights the paradoxical nature of mimetic theories of literature, namely that an author can never totally recapture the essence of what he is writing about—he can only record his impressions of that object or event. Robert Scholes, Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975) 7. 68 A Structural Model for the Fantastic 2.3. Beyond the "Unreal" A t question is whether or not the structural aspects of medieval narratives support a fantastic interpretation o f 12 t h- and 13 t h-century texts. Medieval narratives often take the form o f cycles or continuations, where an author picks up a story in mid-stream and continues a previous writer's work. Examples can be found in narratives such as the Arthurian cycles and epic stories such as the Chanson de Roland.5 Such narratives have no clear ending or seemingly stop midway in the story. 6 A writer may leave the work to be completed by a colleague, as is the case with Chretien de Troyes, who designated Godefroi de Leigni to finish Le Chevalier de la charrette. Or perhaps, at some later date, a writer decided to continue the cycle by adding his own version of the story or by reviving an existing tradition, as is the case with the numerous reworkings o f the Grail legend. Prior to the Renaissance, texts were Rosemarie McGerr examines the medieval concepts of literary closure. "For example, there are some medieval texts that remain implicitly open, even though they may come to a formal close—texts that support Smith's argument that 'the fulfilling o f formal expectations is never a sufficient condition for the experience o f closure.'" She not only looks at the way a text ends, but the inner movement in the direction o f completeness as well. McGerr uses the Chanson de Roland as an example o f a narrative text that is technically complete and yet lacks true closure. Rosemarie P. McGerr , "Medieval Concepts o f Literary Closure," Exemplaria, V o l . I, N° 1 (1989): 164. See also, Barbara Smith, Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End (Chicago: Univ. o f Chicago Press, 1968) 45. "The question o f closure is continually reopened, as it operates on every level of the romance product and reappears on every level o f romance production (composition, transmission, and reception)." Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, Shaping Romance: Interpretation, Truth, and Closure in Twelfth-Century French Fictions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993) 219. 69 A Structural Model for the Fantastic manuscripts, subject to the whim of the scribes who were frequently inspired by oral sources, and usually several decades separate the composition of a work from its oldest surviving version. 2.3.1. Ambiguity and the Fantastic In direct contrast to the medieval tradition of romance production, the Renaissance had a highly structured concept of narratives that necessitated a beginning, middle, and end to each story. It is also noteworthy that the printed text of the Renaissance ensured a greater unity between copies of the text, though not necessarily any greater accuracy. The requirement for textual unity is based on the Classical tradition established by Aristotle.7 The Classical model for narratives emphasized the importance of unity in that a story must contain everything necessary to its being understood. The importance of a clear relationship between the three stages of a narrative is essential to the unity of action. Accordingly, if there is no clear ending to a story, then the unity of action is broken and the plot remains unresolved. The Aristotelian need for an ending that resolves all of the conflicts in the narrative is meaningful to the question of the fantastic and offers an additional explanation as to why the fantastic has received so little attention for medieval literature. The inclusion of fantastic elements in medieval texts would violate Aristotle's rules of narrative structure in many ways, 7 See section 1.3 of this dissertation. 70 A Structural Model for the Fantastic especially in averting a tidy conclusion. Dubost maintains that the most common structural component o f the merveilleux is the happy end achieved through the intervention o f a supernatural agent.8 Since real life is often not very tidy, the mimetic must cede to the merveilleux to produce a complete, satisfying ending. But Dubost does not pursue the question o f what happens when the ending is subverted by the supernatural agent. In a text containing the fantastic mode, one sees that the ending is left ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations—there is no happy end per se, only a number o f possible endings that may or may not bring satisfaction. Without a return to equilibrium, there can be no closure and therefore no happy end to the narrative. The lack o f a happy end also means that the reader must choose a satisfactory resolution and thereby complete the text, even though the author has stopped the process o f creating narrative input. Umberto Eco also writes o f this need to reestablish equilibrium vvdthin a basic narrative: "But it is precisely because it eventually arrives at a conclusion that the cycle stimulus—crisis—expectation— satisfaction—re-establishment of an order acquires a meaning."9 The beginning and end are states o f equilibrium, while the middle is composed o f a process built upon the four other 8 " L a caracteristique structurelle la plus evidente du conte merveilleux, le happy end consecutif a un renversement de situation, est obtenu grace au concours d'un agent surnaturel." Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 132. 9 Eco, The Open Work..., 75. (Emphasis in the original.) 71 A Structural Model for the Fantastic stages o f stimulus, crisis, expectation and satisfaction. I illustrate this cycle in Figure 2.2 according to the standard stages o f the fantastic mode in narrative texts. 1 0 , Equilibrium Integration/ rejection of the supernatural Supernatural event Questioning the assumptions/ attitudes of the real world Uncertainty/ Fear/ Hesitation Figure 2.2—The cycle of narrative crisis and resolution in the fantastic A s shown in Figure 2.2, the stimulus for the fantastic in a narrative is a supernatural event, which causes the protagonist to experience a crisis based on /otherness/. This crisis manifests itself as an inability to take action, resulting in uncertainty, fear and hesitation. The crisis is representative o f a state o f Greimassian disjunction (symbolized by S u O) 1 1 for the protagonist in that the crisis reveals the lacunae of a hero's life or a weakness in character. In 1 0 For a discussion o f these stages, see section 1.2 o f this dissertation. 1 1 See Appendix A for an explanation o f the symbols used in this formula. 72 A Structural Model for the Fantastic a crisis, the protagonist expects to be able to depend upon what society considers to be normal, based on the laws o f the real world. That expectation is violated by the use o f the fantastic mode, forcing the protagonist to question the real world. The questioning results in a rejection or acceptance o f the supernatural event. This satisfies the protagonist's need to account for the supernatural event that provoked the crisis. Therefore the protagonist can only return to a state o f equilibrium by accepting or rejecting the supernatural event. 2.3.2. Lack of Closure and the Fantastic B y integrating or rejecting the supernatural, the character moves into a state o f Greimassian conjunction (S n O) where the very act o f making that decision causes the crisis to disappear and the narrative equilibrium to be restored. However, i f the protagonist never progresses towards a resolution o f the crisis, the state o f equilibrium is never restored, the story is unsatisfactory and incomplete according to Aristotle's model. This cyclical model is realized through the narrative program as a series o f episodes that form the plot. The protagonist may go through the cycle numerous times within a single romance. Open-endedness is created by the lack o f a clear definitive resolution and, I would argue, is characteristic o f the fantastic within medieval romance texts. Todorov discusses the basic narrative as being a movement between two states o f equilibrium: "On commencera par se construire une image du recit minimum,... L'image sera 73 A Structural Model for the Fantastic la suivante : tout recit est mouvement entre deux equilibres semblables mais non identiques."12 The fantastic narrative itself appears to be caught up in a series o f digressions and subplots pulling the story in opposite directions: some lead us as readers to believe that the character is hallucinating or is in a dream-like state (the natural interpretation); other subplots and digressions hint at the possibility o f parallel worlds (the supernatural interpretation). 1 3 Each o f these represents a pole in Todorov's definition o f the minimal story. The textual equilibrium is restored by means o f a character's or implied reader's 1 4 decision to accept or reject the supernatural. B y the end o f the story, the protagonist must complete the story, and thus o f necessity exit from the fantastic mode into either the etrange or the merveilleux. When there is no closure provided by the protagonist's choice, the implied reader is left to choose for him- or herself. The author does not choose a single specific ending to the story—rather he presents any number o f plausible endings. 1 51 propose that it is the very Todorov, Introduction..., 171. (Emphasis in the original.) "At various moments the narrative offers what appear to be (at least) two simultaneous 'stories': the supernatural and the other one or ones. The reader (and often the character) is called upon to furnish an explanation, to prolong the story beyond its textual boundaries—in short, to mirror and rival the author." Avni , art. cit., 678. See section 1.2.6 for a discussion o f the implied reader. "In other words, the author offers the interpreter, the performer, the addressee a work to be completed." Eco, The Open Work..., 19. (Emphasis in the original.) 74 A Structural Model for the Fantastic quality o f "openness" that makes a story fantastic from a structural point of view. A n example of this can be seen in Tydorel, where the author's conclusion does not offer a solution that accounts for Tydorel's mystery. "Poignant en est au lai venuz, / el plus parfont s'est enz ferua ; / illec remest, en tel maniere, / que puis ne retorna ariere." ( w . 4 8 5 ^ 8 8 ) 1 6 There is no "happily ever after" implied here. The mystery o f Tydorel remains intact to the end. Jackson compares the fantastic elements within the text to a kind of oxymoron holding together contradictions and sustaining "them in an impossible unity without progress towards synthesis."1 7 Unti l that synthesis can be achieved, there is no resolution o f the conflict, no return to a state o f equilibrium, and therefore no definitive end to the narration. 2.4. Openness and the Fantastic To identify the fantastic, an examination o f the need for an ending to the narrative is essential. Umberto Eco, in The Open Work, challenges some o f the more traditional interpretations of literature. Concerning the openness o f a work, Eco writes, " A work o f art, therefore, is a complete and closed form in its uniqueness as a balanced organic whole, while at the same time constituting an open product on account o f its susceptibility to countless different interpretations which do not impinge on its unadulterable specificity." 1 8 Eco asserts 1 6 O'Hara Tobin, Lais anonymes..., 224. 1 7 Jackson, Fantasy and mimesis..., 21. 1 8 Eco, op. cit., 4. (Emphasis in the original.) 75 A Structural Model for the Fantastic that the author o f a narrative includes in his work everything necessary for the average reader to be able to understand and interpret that narrative. However, at the same time, the author leaves the interpretation o f the narrative up to the reader. According to this theory, each reader brings a different set o f circumstances and experience to the work and therefore derives a different understanding. While a work in movement is open to numerous interpretations, that openness is not a limitless quality. There is a lack o f chaos because the implied organizing rule behind these relations controls the way in which the work should be approached. Eco does not address the need, important in my opinion, to clearly distinguish between the author's role in offering multiple situations open to interpretation and the structuring o f those situations into a cohesive narrative which directs the reader toward some interpretations and away from others. 1 91 agree with Eco 's assertions that the author includes a number o f possibilities within a text, but find his statement that "a particular taste, or perspective, or personal performance "20 is a position that grants excessive 1 9 Eco addresses this concern in a later work. "In analyzing fiction, one must frequently decide in which sense—on the grounds o f our knowledge o f the actual world—we can evaluate individuals and events o f imaginary worlds (differences between romance and novel, realism and fantasy, whether the Napoleon o f Tolstoy is identical with or different from the historical one, and so on). Since in every state of a story things can go on in different ways, the pragmatics o f reading is based on our ability to make forecasts at every narrative disjunction. Take the paramount case o f criminal stories where the author wants to elicit false forecasts on the part o f the readers in order to frustrate them." Eco, The Limits of Interpretation (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990) 72. 2 0 ibid, 21. 76 A Structural Model for the Fantastic power to the reader. This type of personal interpretation by the reader would outweigh the author's encoded san, or "meaning" which is difficult to validate for a medieval text. For in medieval texts, the co-existing purposes o f a story as both entertainment and instruction imply a deliberate agenda on the part of the author. 2.4.1. Integrations and Structural Vitality In order to account for the author's encoded possibilities, Eco proposes the concept of integrations, which fill in the lacunae between the various possibilities within a predetermined structure: "The 'openness' and dynamism o f an artistic work consist in factors which make it susceptible to a whole range of integrations. They provide it with organic complements which they graft into the structural vitality which the work already possesses, even i f it is incomplete. This structural vitality is still seen as a positive property o f the work, even though it admits o f all kinds o f different conclusions and solutions for i t ." 2 1 These integrations become the muscles and sinews which bind together the fundamental structure provided by the author. In relation to the one-to-many model for reality and the supernatural, the various degrees of supernaturalness in a text may be seen as integrations between the poles o f solid reality and the blatantly supernatural. The presence o f such supernatural integrations supports the structure of a work and fills it with a sense o f /otherness/. While Eco 's concept of integrations 2 1 Eco, The Open Work..., 2 0 . 77 A Structural Model for the Fantastic clarifies the role o f the reader, it does little to account for the author's role in creating a vital structure for the narrative. It is necessary to scratinize the methods o f composition that the author employs in order to create what Eco calls structural vitality. 2.4.2. Ordering the Text What makes a work "open" according to Eco is its ability to break away from traditional modes o f expression and to embrace a more ambiguous method o f communication. 2 2 B y its ambiguity this new system is naturally susceptible to a wider range o f interpretations. Because of this wider scope, the work seems to be in a chaotic state, lacking order and method. However, Eco maintains, this is not necessarily the case. "That is, all deviation from the most banal linguistic order entails a new kind o f organization, which can be considered as disorder in relation to the previous organization, and as order in relation to the parameters of the new discourse."23 When applied to the fantastic, this apparent lack o f organizational cohesiveness is directly contrasted with the highly-organized system of mimetic, Aristotelian discourse. This 2 2 "In Opera aperta the idea o f the open work serves to explain and justify the apparently radical difference in character between modern and traditional art.[...] In traditional art, contraventions occurred only within very defined limits, and forms o f expression remained substantially conventional. [...] In the modern open work, on the other hand, the contravention o f conventions is far more radical, and it is this that gives it its very high degree of ambiguity; since ordinary rules o f expression no longer apply, the scope for interpretation becomes enormous. Thus, according to Eco, traditional art corifirms conventional views of the world, whereas the modern open work implicitly denies them." Robey, "Introduction"..., ix, x i . 2 3 Eco, op. cit., 60. (Emphasis in the original.) 78 A Structural Model for the Fantastic new, more discrete ordering of the text is perceived by the reader who enters into the narrative process by virtue o f shared experiences with the characters. "But although the transmission o f signs conceived according to a rigorous code, based on conventional values, can be explained without having to depend on the interpretive intervention o f the receiver, the transmission o f a sequence o f signals with little redundancy and a high ratio o f improbability demands that we take into consideration both the attitudes and the mental structures by which the receiver, o f his own free wil l , selects a message and endows it with a probability that is certainly already there but only as one probability among many." 2 4 Eco refers here to what Todorov calls the "implied reader," who discovers one o f a number o f possible, structurally-encoded interpretations. The text is ordered in such a way as to ensure that the implied reader is able to discern the encoded message with a relative degree o f certainty. 2.4.3. Textual Ambiguity and Inertia The introduction o f textual ambiguity by the author is the primary means for increasing the reader's sense o f crisis. Eco states that contemporary poetics reflects the processes that "create 'ambiguous' situations open to all sorts o f operative choices and interpretations."2 5 Ambiguity becomes the hallmark o f openness. Notably, ambiguity is one o f the fundamental 2 4 ibid, 70. 2 5 ibid, 44. 79 A Structural Model for the Fantastic aspects o f the fantastic mode, as I discussed in Chapter 1. In his introduction to The Open Work, David Robey writes, "Ambiguity, for Eco, is the product o f the contravention o f established conventions o f expression: the less conventional forms o f expression are, the more scope they allow for interpretation and therefore the more ambiguous they can be said to be." 2 6 B y greatly increasing the number o f possible options, the overload o f information creates a sense of paralysis or hesitation encoded into the text and vicariously experienced by the reader. "[I] n its reliance on ambiguity and information as essential values of a work of art, contemporary poetics rebels against the psychic inertia that has been hiding behind the promise o f a recovered order."27 This psychic inertia is seen in terms o f "determinate cultural patterns" 2 8 which create expectations based on assumptions. A s the cultural patterns are violated in order to create new patterns, they become a new system o f assumptions which also in turn attempt to satisfy the expectations o f the reader. There is a constant need to reestablish order for both the text and the reader. 2 6 Robey, "Introduction...," xi . 2 7 Eco, op. cit., 80. (Emphasis in the original.) 2 8 ibid.,IS. 80 A Structural Model for the Fantastic The type o f inertia Eco refers to is the reader's cultural assumption that the text wi l l contain a resolution precluding the need for the reader to choose one. Yet, I believe, the fantastic has its own type of inertia as well: the inertia o f the reader who is reluctant to choose a resolution (expecting the text to provide it), and the inertia of the text which refuses to offer an obvious or easy solution to the reader (expecting the reader to formulate it). Both the text and the reader are disinclined to proffer an easy solution which would result in an etrange interpretation, yet they both also resist the acceptance o f the supernatural which connotes a merveilleux text. A n d yet this inability or unwillingness (on the part o f both the text and reader) to act creates the very effect against which Eco 's psychic inertia rebels, it creates the unexpected. Psychic inertia renounces the unexpected that fantastic inertia promotes. The process o f ordering the text to account for its deliberate ambiguity, 2 9 1 believe, presents another significant function o f the fantastic mode in romance narratives: to present Rosemarie McGerr states, "Like modern theorists, medieval theorists understood that, because we perceive patterns retrospectively, our perception o f literary structure develops through a process of recognition of a pattern, hypothesis about continuation of that pattern, and readjustment in the light o f new evidence. Since the conclusion o f a text reveals the last o f the evidence, only with the conclusion can we perceive the whole pattern and the true place o f each element within the pattern." McGerr , "Medieval Concepts . . . ,"155. McGerr ' s statement implies that the structure o f a medieval work is only truly recoverable at the conclusion o f a story. However, i f the author had a clear plan in mind, that plan should be at least to some degree discernible throughout the development o f the narrative. While the ending o f a story does allow one to refine and confirm the basic structure o f any text, the lack o f an ending does not imply that there is no clear structure. Whether a work is complete or not, there should still be some latent structure noticeable within the text. 81 A Structural Model for the Fantastic multiple choices, each probable and yet somehow dissatisfying. Eco writes, "Confronted by disorder, we are then free to establish temporary, hypothetical systems o f probability that are complementary to other systems that we could also, eventually or simultaneously, assume. B y so doing, we can enjoy both the equiprobability o f all the systems and the openness o f the process as a whole." 3 0 When choosing an ending, the reader is forced to assume the co-creative role with the author and yet is simultaneously constrained by the author's assumptions about the "implied reader." When an individual reader makes a choice as to the most probable outcome for a story, that choice does not nullify any o f the other possibilities. The structure only compels us toward a choice, it does not make that choice obvious or easy. 2.5. A New Model for the Fantastic In developing a structural model for the fantastic, it is useful to examine existing models o f the fantastic to see why they have proven to be applicable to only a select group o f period-specific texts. Jean Molino asserts that a more sophisticated model is needed in order to develop a complex, multi-form view o f the fantastic. Molino examines three models: "Papproche historique et philologique, l'approche thematique et semantique, et l'approche 3 0 Eco, op. cit., 80. 82 A Structural Model for the Fantastic structurale."3 1 He deliberately rejects the psychoanalytical and sociological theories o f the fantastic in his discussion. 3 2 2.5.1. Current Models for the Fantastic The mstoric/philological approach to the fantastic, Molino asserts, is crippled by its confinement to the conditions o f its creation: "...un objet historique ne peut etre etudie que dans le double systeme de limitation qu'imposent une culture et une epoque definies..." 3 3 Any examination o f the fantastic from a historic perspective wi l l o f necessity focus on the specific works rather than on the general subject, thereby excluding from consideration any variations or other time periods. The thematic/semantic model is typified according to Molino by the writings of Roger Caillois. Molino characterizes this analytical model as concentrating on the content o f fantastic stories: "Ce n'est done pas la litterature fantastique qui est visee, mais le monde fantastique... " 3 4 The strengths and weaknesses of these two models have already been discussed at length in Chapter 1. Tvrrning to the third model o f the fantastic, Molino discusses Todorov's concept of structures within a fantastic text. Molino has three specific objections to 3 1 Molino, "Trois modeles...," 12. 3 2 "On ne peut mettre en relation un texte avec les structures de l'inconscient ou de la societe que si Ton a deja construit un ou des modeles du texte lui-meme." ibid. 3 3 ibid., 13. 3 4 ibid., 16. 83 A Structural Model for the Fantastic Todorov's work: it is not any different from other theories, in that it relies upon psychological criteria; it excludes any real structural analysis; and it represents only a partial definition by structural standards. I agree with Molino that the previous structural models are limited by virtue o f their specificity. The fantastic, as defined in each o f these models, occurs in the real world when the protagonist is confronted by a supernatural event and reacts accordingly. According to this school o f thought, reality provides the only theoretical framework by which the fantastic is evaluated. 3 5 The hero never leaves the real world, as I illustrate in Figure 2.3: Figure 2.3—Model for current representations of the fantastic 3 5 For an in-depth discussion of reality as the basis for evaluating the fantastic, see section 1.2.3 o f this dissertation. Real world (mimesis) Supernatural event (merveilleux) 84 A Structural Model for the Fantastic The hero must integrate the supernatural occurrence into his existing world v iew. 3 6 When that integration is difficult or impossible, the conflict is prolonged. When the supernatural event is merged into the character's view of reality, then the conflict is resolved and equilibrium is reestablished for the protagonist. According to this model, reality becomes the only referential axis and the ultimate value judgment in the discourse on the fantastic. 2.5.2. Dubost's Model of Verticality Francis Dubost examines the structure o f the conte merveilleux in relation to the fantastic according to a vertical model. The supernatural elevates or abases the hero along a vertical axis of competence. Dubost states that the situation in a conte merveilleux is directly related to how the hero reacts to the supernatural. "Dans les recits de ce type, le surnaturel se situe exclusivement au niveau du faire, de Facte, du projet actantiel; so it pour amener le heros a agir; soit pour favoriser son action; soit pour la contrarier ou l'empecher; soit pour la sanctionner, la reconnaitre et la manifester publiquement." 3 7 The supernatural found in the conte merveilleux invests the hero with an ability to act and overcome adversity. Challenges are met with confidence and ease. The orientation o f the 3 6 This integration is characteristic o f the paranormal mode, as identified by Nancy Trail: "The paranormal mode [...] lays the problem to rest: the alethic opposition is neutralized because the domain of the physically possible is expanded." Trail, "Fictional Worlds...," 203. 3 7 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 130-131. 85 A Structural Model for the Fantastic situation goes from one o f dysphoria to one of euphoria. In other words the hero attains a higher level o f achievement and his social standing is also enhanced. The vertical progression o f the hero is emphasized by Dubost as one o f empowerment. On the contrary, the supernatural found in fantastic examples is seen by Dubost as moving the hero downward on the vertical axis. His situation, often dismal at first, is only worsened by the supernatural. The hero eventually begins to question his own faculties: " U n debat douloureux s'instaure alors, porteur de questions de plus en plus urgentes qui restent malgre tout sans reponses, sauf a admettre Fhypothese surnaturelle et terrifiante, ce qui reviendrait a s'abandonner a l'emprise fantastique."38 This questioning upsets the equilibrium o f the hero, both mentally and within the narrative program. 3 9 The hero arrives at a state o f total alienation, causing the story to end in tragedy (or at the very least on a negative note). The ending is not in question. Rather Dubost states that the results o f the supernatural within the merveUleux and the fantastic lead the hero in opposite directions. In the former, the supernatural confers upon the hero a higher status, in the latter it demotes the hero, until he can be freed o f the supernatural's influences. Dubost's model o f verticality concentrates on the social progress o f the hero. He measures the effects o f 3 8 ibid., 131. 3 9 The need to return to a state of equilibrium is addressed above. See Figure 2.2. 86 A Structural Model for the Fantastic the fantastic according to the hero's progress rather than by relating it to the structuring of episodes. 2.5.3. The Parallel Worlds Model Both Molino and Dubost present cases that are confined by their specificity: Molino rejects other critics' approaches and endorses a purely anthropological approach. Dubost explains away the fantastic as a thematic phenomenon without accounting for the parallel relationship between the real world and the otherworld. I would assert that a more complex and satisfactory model for the fantastic is necessary in order to account for a wider variety o f the fantastic in medieval narratives. A s previously stated, the presence o f the supernatural world is the requisite thematic element for the fantastic. The parallel relationship of the real and supernatural worlds to each other suggests a common narrative program for the fantastic within medieval texts. I propose a parallel model that may be represented as follows: Fantastic space (intersection) Figure 2.4 —Proposed model of the fantastic 87 A Structural Model for the Fantastic In this model, the characters are free to move between worlds, passing through the fantastic, which represents an intersection 4 0 between the real and the supernatural worlds. In Figure 2.4,1 show that the fantastic results when the merveilleux is superimposed on mimesis. The two worlds are in parallel relation to each other in a horizontal orientation where they are neither above nor below each other, but in a side-by-side relationship. Mimesis and merveilleux comprise the two extreme poles between which fantastic space is situated. The fantastic arises out of the interaction, in one space, o f the two opposed and irreconcilable world views; it comes into being as the result o f the tensions produced by the inclusion of the supernatural within the framework o f reality. The fantastic is thus characterized by the constant shifting o f the diffuse boundaries between reason and chaos. In a word, there is no fine line, no point o f junction between the merveilleux and the fantastic that is easily grasped. The conflict that takes place within fantastic space results from the reluctance o f the hero to choose between a rational interpretation and an acceptance o f the supernatural. Figure 2.5 shows the possible responses o f the hero to the supernatural. 4 0 When I speak o f "intersection," I am not referring to a linear boundary, but to a shifting, overlapping space that is not a clear line. "Medieval representation was less an apanage o f power than a means of affirming and describing—of reassuring—that there was a world o f material reality whose boundaries (from our point of view) seem amazingly fluid. These boundaries may be spatial as in the cases of heroes o f lay and romance who cross over from the real world to the irreel o f the Celtic other world;..." Nichols, "The N e w Medievalism...," 2-3. 88 A Structural Model for the Fantastic Fantastic space 1 = Etrange episode 2 = Fantastic episode 3 = Merveilleux episode Figure 2.5—Possible narrative scenarios for the fantastic Scenario 1 represents the rejection o f the supernatural: the hero decides to explain the supernatural event according to the mimetic laws o f the real world. Scenario 1 is an etrange episode. Scenario 3, is the exact opposite o f 1. 3 represents the acceptance o f the supernatural: the hero does not rationalize the supernatural event. The hero instead accepts it, and acknowledges the existence of the supernatural as a manifestation o f the presence o f the otherworld. He enters into the otherworld and thereby participates in a merveilleux adventure. Scenario 2 is the fantastic episode, where the hero neither accepts nor rejects the supernatural, and therefore the narrative program is unable to progress towards a satisfactory closure. I f a story has a satisfactory conclusion (that is, one where all o f the disjunctions4 1 are accounted 4 1 "Disjunction" is used here in the Greimassian sense of separation o f the subject from the object. "Along with conjunction, one o f two basic types o f junction, or relation, between the subject and the object ( ' X is not with Y , ' ' X does not have Y ' ) . " Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology (Lincoln: Univ. o f Nebraska Press, 1987) 22. Prince bases bis definition on that o f Greimas and Courtes, Semiotics and Language: An Analytical Dictionary (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982). Appendix A contains a discussion o f the basic concepts o f Greimas' theories about semiotics. 89 A Structural Model for the Fantastic for and resolved), it emerges from the fantastic mode to be ultimately quantified as either etrange or merveilleux, which are both legitimate interpretations in themselves. It is this model that wi l l be tested and used to examine the various medieval texts in Chapters 3-6. 2.6. Defining Fantastic Space The Celtic otherworld is distinguished by its supernatural aspects. Since fantastic space is created through the intersection of the real world and the otherworld, it is useful to define how that otherworld reveals itself. The otherworld is portrayed as separated from the real world by physical barriers, such as a forest or a body o f water. 4 2 The themes of the otherworld and the way that it interacts with the real world present a number o f fascinating correlations: the most striking similarity is the way in which the interaction of the real world and the otherworld produces fantastic space. To know with certainty that he has traveled through fantastic space to a supernatural world, the protagonist should be able to recognize the signs that delineate the entry and exit points between the real world and the otherworld. The description of locations may help to create an atmosphere o f /otherness/. For example in medieval romances, when the hero enters a forest, crosses a river, or arrives at some other 4 2 Forests, bodies o f water and other uncivilized places are associated with demons and spirits, representing gods or genies associated with places. " E n outre, de nombreux demons parmi ceux qui furent chasses du ciel, sont les maitres de la mer, ou des rivieres, ou des sources, ou des forets, tous demons que, de la meme facon, les hommes ignorant Dieu venerent comme s'ils etaient des divinites, et ils leur offrent des sacrifices." Claude Lecouteux, Mondes paralleles. L 'Univers des croyances du Moyen Age. Collection essais N° 14 (Paris: Honore Champion, 1994) 16-17. 90 A Structural Model for the Fantastic natural boundary, the narrative description may contain clues that indicate movement from the real world into another realm. Places, particularly sources o f water, may be fantastic by their nature, and their descriptions are clearly intended to evoke /otherness/ and lead the character into the supernatural otherworld. Identifying the transition points between the real world and otherworld is crucial to pinpointing the presence o f fantastic episodes within romance narratives. I f the fantastic truly resides within the intersecting space between the real and the supernatural worlds, as I proposed above, then a closer examination o f that frontier is necessary to provide a way to identify when a character has left his own world and entered a supernatural one. These frontiers are the spatial coordinates o f the fantastic, as previously shown in Figure 2.5.1 examine three distinct locales that contain the most common routes to the supernatural world: forests, bodies o f water, and cemeteries.4 3 The first type o f natural frontier examined is the forest. 4 3 I have chosen to concentrate on these three physical spaces, because they all are common to the texts I examine in Chapters 3-6 o f this dissertation. However, other spaces are equally capable of being defined as "fantastic space," as the term is defined within this dissertation. Possible categories of fantastic space include ruined or deserted castles, deep caves, and enchanted or secret valleys and remain as topics for the future investigation o f fantastic space as an organizing principle of the fantastic mode. Francis Dubost examines several possible types o f spaces associated with the fantastic: crossroads, exotic spaces, islands, forests for hunting, castles, shadow lands, wasted lands, and what he calls "espaces morts" and "espaces des morts." See Part 3 o f Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 243^125. 91 A Structural Model for the Fantastic 2.6.1. Forests Among the most evocative scenes found in medieval romance are those passages where the hero finds himself roaming in the forest: the initial battle scene described by Gawain in Le Chevalier de la Charrette; hunting the white boar in Guingamors; and the desolate forest surrounding the Grail Castle in Le Conte du Graal. The forest acts as the setting for regeneration, adventure, spiritual visions, and love. Derek Pearsall and Elizabeth Salter describe the forest as "a place o f mystery, a place o f testing, and always potentially evil [...], an alien wilderness." 4 4 The forest may be typified according to three heroic experiences: chaos, secret or forbidden love and (perhaps most important) adventure. 2.6.1.1. A Place of Chaos The forest is frequently portrayed in literature as an opposing force to society—the primordial abundance o f nature being directly contrasted with the social order o f the castle, city, or farming communities. Corinne J. Saunders, in her work The Forest of Medi-eval Romance, posits three distinct types o f forests in medieval romance. 4 5 According to Saunders, in the Classical tradition the forest is associated with disorder ifiyle, from which order rose), and primordial matter (silva, the basic matter from which nature arose). Silva, the Latin term 4 4 Derek Pearsall and Elizabeth Salter, Landscapes and Seasons of the Medieval World (London: PaulElek, 1973) 52-53. 4 5 Corinne J. Saunders, The Forest of Medieval Romance. (Cambridge: Brewer, 1993) 10-11. 92 A Structural Model for the Fantastic for forest, is also used by such philosophers as Chalcidius to be the allegorical equivalent o f untamed emotions and passions. 4 6 The interaction between apparent randomness and natural order reveals a prototype o f the inherent disorder that distinguishes the fantastic mode. This disorder is to be resolved through the intervention o f the hero. B y traveling through fantastic space, the hero mediates between the real world and the otherworld 4 7 and is able thereby to resolve any conflicts engendered by the interaction o f two incompatible world orders. 2.6.1.2. The Locus Amoenus In direct contrast to Saunder's description o f the forest as a threatening chaos or labyrinth, Pierre Gallais views the forest as a locus amoenus, or pleasant setting. The locus amoenus is the space where the fairy makes her initial appearance to the knight. "Le locus amoenus, que nous avons souvent rencontre dans 1'Autre monde, peut en fait apparaitre n'importe ou. Certes, i l peut etre le lieu merveilleux ou vivre eternellement (Autre monde [...]); mais d'autre part, i l n 'a rien d'extra-naturel, puisqu'il est une sorte de condense, de 'concentre' de nature familiere, facile a trouver en ce monde-ci [...]; mieux encore, peut-etre, i l se situe entre les deux mondes, dans cet 'inter-monde' ou nous avons vu apparaitre - et parfois - la fee: lieu ideal de la rencontre discrete, de l'mtimite amoureuse [,..]."48 4 6 ibid., 19. 4 7 This interaction o f two worlds and the movement o f the hero between them is illustrated in Figure 2.5. 4 8 Gallais, La Fee . . . ,287. 93 A Structural Model for the Fantastic Gallais' discussion o f the locus amoenus in romance texts mirrors, in my opinion, Todorov's categories of the etrange, fantastique, and merveilleux. Gallais identifies three functions o f the locus amoenus: it reflects the real world (etrange); it is the eternal otherworld (merveilleux); but most importantly, it is the space between worlds (inter-monde) where the real and the merveilleux meet (fantastique). Gallais characterizes the location o f the fountain and the forest as the transitional point where extremes are brought into conjunction and the future of the hero is mediated through those extremes. 4 9 However, Gallais' definition presents the supernatural as the source for all three types o f experiences, whereas Todorov views these same experiences as being produced by three different sources: mimesis, the fantastic and the merveilleux. While also acknowledging Gallais' definitions as an alternate interpretation, I align more closely with Todorov's position. 2.6.1.3. A Place of Adventures In the romance texts o f the latter part o f the 12 t h century, the forest motif (as intermediary for the otherworld) is exploited more fully with the inclusion o f the matiere de Bretagne, based on Celtic oral tradition. 5 0 Wace, in Le roman de Rou, describes the forest o f Broceliande as the traditional location to seek romance and adventure, " L a alai jo merveilles 4 9 ibid, 312. 5 0 The association o f the forest with Celtic deities and the otherworld parallels the classic tradition o f the forest as a place where mortals and gods interact. In the Celtic tales o f the Mabinogion, the forest appears to be a transitory setting for passage to the otherworld. 94 A Structural Model for the Fantastic querre,/ v i la forest e v i la terre,/ merveilles quis, mais nes trovai," 5 1 Wace himself expresses credulity at the thought o f the forest as the source o f adventures. Thus for Wace, the real forest and the literary forest are two different landscapes altogether. The real Broceliande does not offer him any adventures, and yet the literary forest is full o f encounters between knights and the otherworld. The forest becomes the locale o f choice for pursuing knightly activities. Saunders, in comparing the works o f Marie de France and Chretien de Troyes, states: "Through Chretien, the forest becomes the habitual landscape o f a new figure, that o f the knight errant. Marie de France's heroes, while they are clearly medieval knights ruled by the precepts o f chivalry, do not fall into this category, for their adventures come about through chance event or, literally, aventure. Chretien's knights, on the contrary, actively seek adventure through their wanderings, pursuing the potentiality o f the forest." 5 2 Upon closer examination of the works o f Chretien de Troyes, Saunders' statement does not always hold true. For example in Le Conte du Graal, Perceval, who is not yet a knight, enters the forest as a way to seek people (Arthur and then his mother in Wales) and is not "actively" seeking adventure. Or, in the case of Le Chevalier de la Charrette, Lancelot is pursuing a definite object (the queen) rather than just looking for random adventures. 5 1 Wace, Le Roman de Rou, ed. A J . Holden, 2 vols., S A T F (Paris: Editions A . & J. Picard, 1970-73) V o l . I, 11.6393-95. 5 2 Saunders, op. cit., 58. 95 A Structural Model for the Fantastic However, it is true that the forest, as the customary location o f the wandering knight, produces adventure both by chance and by deliberate searching. Whenever a protagonist, such as Guingamors or Graelent, enters the forest, he not only leaves behind his homeland to enter another region or world but he does so through a type o f dusky netherland where time and distance become distorted. The resurgence o f the supernatural within a forest setting represents a rupture in the fabric o f reality, a type o f chaos overtaking the calm and peacefulness. The themes o f adventure, surmounting of obstacles, and completion o f quests are just beginning to appear in their most primitive forms in the romans antiques. A s a precursor to the romance texts, the romans antiques511 present the forest as a place o f disorder, where the supernatural is more readily apparent. A s a locale o f conflict as well as access to the otherworld, the forests found in the romans antiques present a credible prototype o f fantastic space. The romance forest embodies many themes and images, all o f which add to the definition of the forest as paradoxical location where anything can happen. It may be the locus amoenus 5 3 For example, the forest o f Pollinices' exile in Le Roman de Thebes presents the forest as a wild area (I, 649-52). Le Roman de Thebes, ed. Guy Raynaud de Lage, 2 vols. (Paris: Champion, 1966, 1968). Another example is found in the forest in which Dido and Aeneas seek refuge (I, 280-83) in Le Roman d'Eneas. Aeneas also enters a forest to seek Anchises and discovers that he is in the Underworld (I, 2348-55). Eneas: Roman duXIf siecle, ed. J.-J. Salverda de Grave, 2 vols. (Paris: Champion, 1925). 96 A Structural Model for the Fantastic of lovers, 5 4 the testing ground for a young knight, the pathway between Bretagne and the otherworld for mortals and immortals alike. The forest becomes fantastic when it acts as the conduit to the otherworld. Without the potential encounter with the supernatural, a forest is just a grouping o f trees. When that opening or path to the otherworld is stumbled upon, the hero finds himself in fantastic space, caught between two worlds. The character o f the forest is one of both protection from and mediation with the otherworld. The forest insulates the gateway to the otherworld from the casual seeker. That gateway is often a body o f water or fountain. A s an intermediary space, the forest is the location where mortals and supernatural beings come into contact. The ambiguity and changing nature of the forest make it the perfect setting for the fantastic to emerge. 2.6.2. Water A s a transitional location between the real world and the otherworld, the forest can contain a lake or be divided by a river. The association o f deities with such natural features as lakes, streams, rivers, and other bodies o f water is common to many ancient traditions. In the Arthurian tradition, the Lady o f the Lake, (known as Morgan le Fay, Nineve, and Vivien), is associated with the world o f Avalon, attainable only by passing through the water. Water carries man to the other shore where his destiny awaits. Water fascinates, drawing the 5 4 "Que la fee se manifeste si frequemment aupres de la fontaine et (ou) de l'arbre, c'est-a-dire dans un 'lieu plaisant' (le locus amoenus des rhetoriciens), dans une 'tranche de nature' aimable et hautement symbolique, cela n'est pas l'effet du hasard." Gallais, op. cit., 6. See also Chapter 9, "Le 'Locus Amoenus, '" 285-323. 97 A Structural Model for the Fantastic observer to its edge, where the mystery o f what lies beyond and beneath captures the imagination. "L'eau nous invite au voyage irnaginaire."5 5 Water is found in many forms within romance narratives,5 6 including the "spring," which plays a key role in delineating fantastic space. Springs are situated in forests, away from civilized society. In an episode from the Roman d'Alexandre,57 four giants reveal to Alexander the location of three magic fountains: the first restores the youth o f anyone who bathes in it; the second gives immortality; and the third restores life to the dead. Similarly, the use o f a fantastic fountain in Yvain58 indicates an on-going tradition o f associating a water source with magical or supernatural events. The fountain becomes the means by which Yvain 5 5 Gaston Bachelard, La Poetique de la reverie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1961) 179. 5 6 "Fleuves sabbatiques, sources intermittentes, fontaines petrifiantes, fontaines de jouvence, eaux chaudes, therapeutiques, cicatrisantes, aphrodisiaques, colorantes, represented autant de phenomenes deroutants ranges dans la categorie des merveilles ! L a mythologie des fontaines tient pour une bonne part a l'impossibilite de rendre compte de leurs proprietes naturelles. L 'eau bienfaisante et rafraichissante, miroir des graces dans le verger d'amour, peut se transformer en un element hostile et redoutable, pour devenir Yeve felonesse, des recits medievaux." Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 172. (Emphasis in the original.) 5 7 Le Roman d'Alexandre, ed. Edward C. Armstrong, 6 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press and Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1937-1976) 11. 2915-2921. 5 8 Chretien de Troyes, Le Chevalier au Lyon (Yvain), ed. Mario Roques, C F M A 89 (Paris: Champion, 1982). 98 A Structural Model for the Fantastic gains entry into the otherworld, here Laudine's kingdom. It is the storm at the fountain that signifies the beginning o f Yvain's adventure ( w . 800-810). In the Lancelot en prose, the head o f Lancelot's grandfather is entrapped in the lead basin o f a boiling spring, while the body remains unperished in a tomb nearby. The fountain boils as a testimony to murder. 5 9 Fantastic space now has a focal point around which to organize itself. The spring becomes a definitive marker by which the hero must pass in order to enter the otherworld. The forest is the frontier leading up to the aquatic boundary marker. The recurring motif o f water is associated with a woman 6 0 from another world (often a fee), functions as a symbol o f separation between worlds, and is a strong indication o f a voyage between the real world and the otherworld. A journey over water clearly signifies that the hero is leaving behind the familiarity o f his society to face the unknown, supernatural realm of the otherworld. Large bodies o f water, such as lakes, seas and oceans are frontiers between worlds, shapeless voids that capture, carry, and sometimes ki l l men. Rivers and 5 9 Lancelot, Roman en prose du Xllf siecle. ed. Alexandre Micha, Textes Litteraires Francais, V o l 5, N° 6 (Paris and Geneva: Droz, 1978-1983) 121. 6 0 "Cette valorisation substantielle qui fait de l'eau un lait inepuisable, le lait de la nature Mere, n'est pas la seule valorisation qui marque l'eau d'un caractere profondement feminin. Dans la vie de tout homme, ou du moins dans la vie revee de tout homme, apparait la seconde femme : l'amante ou l'epouse. L a seconde femme va aussi etre projetee sur la nature. A cote de la mere-:paysage prendra place la femme-paysage." Bachelard, La Poetique..., 171. 99 A Structural Model for the Fantastic fountains constitute boundaries by virtue o f their compactness and linear form. Water, no matter its form, is essentially feminine, mysterious, and evocative o f the fantastic. 2.6.3. Cemeteries The sensation o f fear and dread often associated with dead people and cemeteries in general may be linked to our own fear o f death itself. Death is the ultimate unknown, and the cemetery provides a place where one can contemplate both the past and the future destiny of all flesh. The cemetery becomes fantastic when the natural order o f life and death is reversed. As Dubost remarks, "Ce lieu devient fantastique lorsque s'y deroulent des actions visant a inverser l'ordre naturel qui va de la vie vers la mort, a nier Pirreversibilite de la mort et du temps, a retrouver, sous quelque forme que ce so it, le vivant dans le cadavre, [...] a creer la confusion si redoutee au Moyen Age, du mort et du vif, a rechercher / 'autrefois de la vie dans l'atemporalite du tombeau." 6 1 The cemetery contains the former members o f the society and provides a way to remind the living o f their past. This hearkening back to the past is the autrefois to which Dubost refers. Dubost recognizes two elements o f the fantastic cemetery as key to the thematic definition o f what he calls "l'espace des morts". There is a wall surrounding the cemetery and there are frequent nocturnal visits by strange characters. He relates these two elements by noting that 6 1 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques..., 410. 100 A Structural Model for the Fantastic when the wall is breached, it is always at night. The chaos which ensues breaks the atmosphere o f peace. Nocturnal exhumations represent the transgression o f social contracts which ensure the protection and peace o f the cemetery. The wall defines sanctified space but there are also ancient cemeteries which have no specific Christian association. For example, the cemetery "de la Douloureuse Garde" in the Lancelot en prose has the heads o f knights mounted on the walls . 6 2 These knights were decapitated because they had tried to put an end to the evil customs o f the place. Even though a cemetery may be sanctified space, demons frequently take up residence there. In several texts from the 12 t h and 13 t h centuries, the demon is in an unnatural relationship with a woman who is imprisoned. In L 'Atre perilleux,67' Amadas et Ydoine, and the Didot-Perceval,64 a tomb is the means o f entrapment. In Claris et Laris and Cristal et Clarie, the woman is kept in a tree within the cemetery walls. In each scenario, the prisoner is fed by the demon, who visits the cemetery only by night and frequently for sexual reasons. 6 2 Lancelot, ed. Micha, V o l III, 152. Norris J. Lacy describes the cemetery as extraordinary and surprising. Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, trans. Carleton W. Carroll, ed. Norris J. Lacy, V o l . II, (New York: Garland, 1993) 79-80. 6 3 A l l the texts mentioned are discussed in Chapter 6, with the exception o f the Didot-Perceval. 6 4 Didot-Perceval, ed. William Roach (Philadelphia: University o f Pennsylvania Press, 1941) 214-216. 101 A Structural Model for the Fantastic This pattern of dominance is recognized by Dubost as a key element o f the fantastic cemetery, where the natural order is violated in both a spiritual and physical manner. "Toutefois, malgre la double cloture materielle et spirituelle qui en protege l'acces, la paix du cimetiere est souvent troublee par des creatures indignes. Le diable, en particulier, manifeste pour les tombeaux une predilection attestee des l'origine de son histoire." 6 5 A demon should not dominate what is ordinarily sanctified space. The resulting paradox causes the literary cemetery to become fantastic space. Fantastic space influences the circumstances surrounding a hero's actions. The distortion o f space causes the hero to lose his point o f reference in the real world. The hero therefore cannot know precisely where he is or even how to get back to the real world. In other words, i f the hero cannot truly know that an event has occurred or that a person or object is part o f the real world, then he is forced to re-examine the veracity o f those events. D id the adventure really happen, or can it be explained away? Such is the crux o f the fantastic as mediated through fantastic spaces. 2.7. The Fantastic Mode and Medieval Narratives From the preceding analysis, one obtains a view o f the fantastic and its related theories as they are defined within the larger scope o f narrative criticism. Three common elements exist in 6 5 Dubost, Aspects fantastiques. ..,412—413. 102 A Structural Model for the Fantastic fantastic texts and episodes: the intrusion o f the supernatural into the everyday life o f the hero which produces fear; a hesitation by the hero based on the author's use o f deliberately ambiguous scenarios within the text; and the presence o f the otherworld. Critics, such as Jean M o l i n o 6 6 and Roger Cai l lois 6 7 have hinted at a fourth element, the open-ended structure o f the text, but no critic has actually examined the way the structure is affected by the fantastic. The fantastic is definable as a mode because o f its many distinguishing features: the presence o f inexplicable events; the attitude of the characters and readers; the details that indicate /otherness/ v\rithin the assumptions and representation o f "reality." The fantastic, as I show through the analysis of my corpus in Chapters 3-6, is more than a compilation o f common themes and motifs. It is inextricably inscribed into the very structure o f the text as well. What the fantastic offers to the plot o f narrative texts is another perspective that interrupts the accepted order and forces both the reader and characters to reevaluate a static situation. But the fantastic is more than just a modus operandi o f the plot, it also re-energizes and controls the narrative program, directing the movement of characters from one episode to the next. I f the protagonist decides to interpret the supernatural event as just an aberration in nature or something that can be accounted for by his current paradigms o f reality, then that character does not progress to the next stage o f development. If, however, the character 6 6 Molino, art. cit., 12, 19-26. 6 7 Caillois, Images, images. ..,16. 103 A Structural Model for the Fantastic interprets the supernatural event as a sign to go onward, he enters into the otherworld and the adventure continues. The distinction between the merveilleux and the fantastic may be based on the way the text treats the supernatural elements. I f the narrative treats the supernatural as an accepted, normal part of the textual experience, then it is merveilleux. I f the supernatural is treated with ambiguity, fear or hesitation, then it is fantastic.6 8 Todorov couched the initial definition of the fantastic in terms of a genre that he compared to the "neighboring" genres o f the etrange and the merveilleux. The theories o f Dubost, Jackson, and Hume support the notion o f the fantastic as a mode contrasted with mimesis. This foundational shift in the way the fantastic is approached by critics offers a response to the debate surrounding the fantastic in medieval literature. When the fantastic is viewed as a genre, it becomes difficult i f not impossible to allow space for the unique aspects o f medieval literature that are seen as naive or ridiculous by modern standards o f /otherness/. When the fantastic is viewed as a mode, the definitions o f /otherness/ and reality are established by the text itself rather than by current societal standards. Freed from the constraints o f 19 t h- and 20 t h-century prejudices, medieval narratives (and all medieval literature in general) are only now being opened up to a multiplicity o f disciplinary approaches that would have been heretofore unthinkable. 6 8 See section 2.1 for a discussion of the symptomatic nature o f fear and hesitation as it relates to the fantastic. 104 A Structural Model for the Fantastic The merveilleux has been the de facto standard for categorizing the supernatural within French medieval texts for literary criticism since the late 19 t h century. The tendency to group together all types o f strange, unusual and blatantly supernatural events into a single category seems to be the primary reason for a lack o f studies addressing the fantastic within medieval literature. Even Francis Dubost only goes so far as to claim that there are "aspects" o f the fantastic within the corpus he addresses. However, it has become apparent, through the studies o f modern scholars such as Jackson, Molino, Hume and Dubost, that there is a case to be made for the presence of the fantastic in medieval literature. The tendency to allow the merveilleux to overshadow the disturbing side of supernatural events within narrative texts has reduced the impact that those darker aspects may represent. That darker side of the supernatural cannot merely be dismissed as a chimera o f medieval imagination. While there is much that is merveilleux in the main corpus o f 12 t h- and 13 t h-century French literature, there remains an unacknowledged movement o f medieval authors to address the more disturbing experiences as well. To confront the unknown and the ambiguous, one must put aside the need for a satisfactory answer in order to seek a better understanding o f that which resists being known. The "one-to-many" model for the supernatural addresses this issue by accounting for varying degrees o f unreality. This approach alleviates the need to justify the philosophical and/or political views which led former critics who concentrate on the fantastic to reject medieval literature as a potential area for research. The structural model I have proposed is based on movement o f the hero between parallel worlds (Figure 2.5). Each phase of the his 105 A Structural Model for the Fantastic progress can be identified based on the outcome o f the adventure. I f the character travels into fantastic space and returns to the real world without entering fully into the otherworld, then the hero has experienced the etrange. The etrange is characterized by a low incidence rate o f /otherness/. When the hero passes through fantastic space and arrives in the otherworld, the merveilleux dominates the episode and contains a very high degree of/otherness/. The fantastic episode is an intermediary component in both the etrange and merveilleux episodes, but can also constitute its own type o f adventure where /otherness/ is present in a disturbing enough quantity to cause the hero (and reader) to question both reality and the supernatural. Such a model accounts for all the standard symptoms of the fantastic such as hesitation, fear, and ambiguity, but bases them on an underlying support of a deep structure. The deep structure of the fantastic episode is founded on the inability to discern among a variety o f possible endings. The etrange has a logical ending based on the rejection o f the supernatural. The merveilleux ends on the characteristically happy note associated with the ability to overcome the trials and difficulties by simply overriding the laws o f nature through extraordinary or magical plot devices. The fantastic however has no clear ending and is "open" in the sense that there is a multiplicity o f probable endings, an ambiguous ending, or no ending at all. This confusion about the resolution o f the narrative program leaves the story 106 A Structural Model for the Fantastic open to all sorts o f interpretations. The plausibility of each potential interpretation (or lack thereof) lends a sense o f modernity 6 9 to those medieval texts where the conclusion is in doubt. M y model codifies the narrative program of the fantastic according to the unifying theme of the otherworld in conflict with the real world. What makes this different from just any other structure is the presence o f the two worlds interacting to create fantastic space. That conflict in turn produces the quantifiable themes o f secrecy, deception, fear and hesitation. Also the presence of multiple encoded endings creates ambiguity within the text, causing the reader to experience a sense o f crisis in the need for closure. That closure is often impossible to find except within the merveUleux, because the real world and its fantastic reflection are not always a neatly defined entity with all the answers provided. This model is different from existing models for medieval romances by its inclusion o f the supernatural as a force flowing from the otherworld, a force that directly influences the narrative program. The supernatural highlights the conflicts and disjunctions within a text by virtue o f encoding /otherness/ into the structure as a vital element to understanding and 6 9 Referring to a trend towards modernism in medieval criticism, Bloch writes, "This disparate group o f writings is united by an enthusiastic sense o f wonder at the discovery o f how familiar the Middle Ages seem within the context o f the contemporary discourses o f cultural criticism, and thus a sense o f relief that those who studied medieval texts are not as irrelevant to the present as many o f our own teachers had hoped we would be." R. Howard Bloch and Stephen G . Nichols, "Introduction," Medievalism and the Modernist Temper (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) 3. 107 A Structural Model for the Fantastic interpreting that text according to the author's highly organized possible readings. The author uses /otherness/ as a means to create what Eco calls "integrations" as well as what I refer to in section 2.2 as the one-to-many model for the relationship o f two conflicting worlds. M y model for the fantastic is also different in that it proposes a number o f narrative programs that may result from the supernatural influence o f the otherworld. The possible scenarios now are expanded to account for the failure o f the hero, as well as the traditional scenarios o f success associated with merveilleux tales. I f it is possible to identify the fantastic mode by virtue o f people, places or circumstances that evince /otherness/ (according to the internal standards established by the text), it presents no great leap to extend the effort further by drawing an association between highly fantastic episodes and the structural makeup o f the narrative program. The failure o f the hero to complete an adventure is "localized" through the hypothesis o f fantastic space. Fantastic space creates a location o f uncertainty and ambiguity where the indecisiveness of the hero is characterized by the thematic association with conflicting duties and loyalties. Fantastic space represents the presence of two worlds in one physical space. The fantastic distinguishes itself from the traditional form o f the merveilleux by its radical challenge o f the authority o f realistic discourse and its attitude o f questioning the border between reality and the supernatural. Therefore, the fantastic, while conducting a renegotiation with the real, is structured in the intermediate areas between reality and reverie, natural and supernatural, decisive and indecisive. Mimetic discourse is based on an ontological absolute; the fantastic is concerned with the indefinite and the uncertain. Viewed from this 108 A Structural Model for the Fantastic position, mimesis is characterized as presence, structural closure, totalization; the fantastic is open, disruptive, and concerned with mdefinite production. The fantastic represents that unknown part o f the supernatural and as such represents a source o f questions. B y confronting the supernatural and delving into the nuances and variants o f its rnanifestation, the text itself provides the basis forjudging the supernatural, supplying the standard by which to evaluate the effects o f the fantastic mode. In applying my model for the fantastic, I address the six texts from a common approach. I first develop a structure for the text, then explore the relationship between the fantastic mode and that structure, and consider the use of fantastic space as a means o f mitigating between the real world and the otherworld. What I offer in the following chapters is by no means an exhaustive or systematic survey o f 12 t h- and 13 t h-century romance literature, but a small sampling o f narratives that highlight some o f the most intriguing aspects o f writings from that period. While each work is analyzed with respect to its own internal coherence, similar issues appear in various forms: communication and the use o f language to deceive, the use o f multiple points o f view, the role o f the narrator in creating deception and secrecy, and the ability o f the hero to decode signs, actions and discourse. Although the selection o f texts is small, I hope to raise questions and propose hypotheses that may be applied to other works in order to validate the fantastic mode for those medieval narratives in which the otherworld appears. 109 3. Le Conte du graal1 Chretien de Troyes' account o f the Grail legend is one of the most popular in literature and the topic o f much critical discourse. Most probably written between 1180 and 1190, 2 the story of the Grail has subsequently been rewritten and analyzed in a myriad o f ways. Indeed there are numerous continuations that attest to the ongoing desire to see the Grail quest accomplished.3 Because it is far more complex than Chretien's other works, 4 Le Conte du 1 Preliminary material in Chapters 3 and 4 was presented in "Fantastic Structures in the Narratives o f Chretien de Troyes," an unpublished paper given at the International Medieval Congress, 10-13 July, 1995, University of Leeds, England. 2 Rupert T. Pickens, "Le Conte du Graal (Perceval), " The Romances of Chretien de Troyes: A symposium, ed. Douglas Kelly (Lexington: French Forum Publishers, 1985) 232. 3 In all there are seven contemporary (Old French) continuations of the Grail story: Robert de Boron's Estoire, two anonymous Continuations (both unfinished), two independent Terminations, the Didot-Perceval, and the anonymous Perlesvaus. Later in the mid-thirteenth century the Lancelot-Graal, or Vulgate cycle, comprises the first prose version o f the story. Robert de Boron, Le Roman de I 'estoire dou Graal, Ed . William Nitze, C F M A #57 (Paris: Champion, 1927, 1983). The Continuations of the Old French Perceval of Chretien de Troyes. Ed . William Roach, et al. 5 vols. (Philadelphia: Univ. o f Pennsylvania Press, 1949-1950 (1-2), American Philosophical Society, 1953-1983 (3 [Parts 1-2] -5). The first Termination was by an otherwise unknown Manessier (contained in the Continuations edited by Roach, op. cit.) and the second by Gerbert de Montreuil, La Continuation de Perceval, E d . Mary Williams, 2 vols., C F M A # 28, 50 (Paris: Champion, 1922-1925). The Didot-Perceval, Ed . William Roach, (Philadelphia: Univ. o f Pennsylvania Press, 1941). Le Haut Livre du graal: Perlesvaus, E d . William Nitze and A . C. Jenkins, 2 vols., (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1932-1937). Lancelot: Roman en prose duXUT siecle, ed. Alexandre Micha, 8 vols. (Geneva: Droz, 1978-82). 110 Le Conte du graal graal offers a particularly rich field for semiotic analysis. It is by far the most open-ended and intricately profound of Chretien's romances.5 Le Conte du graal is composed o f two distinct narratives concerning Perceval and Gauvain. The Gauvain portion (4176 o f the total) amounts to nearly half o f the poem's 9184 verses, and threatens to become an independent narrative in its own right. 6 However 4 "Like his portion o f the Charrette, Chretien's Contes del Graal fragment is an intricately structured, complex narrative that features highly polished and technically exemplary writing. His unfinished last poem is anything but a crude outline or rough draft." Rupert T. Pickens, "Introduction," Li Contes del Graal. E d . Rupert T. Pickens, trans. William W . Kibler, Garland Library o f Medieval Literature N° 62 A (New York : Garland PubUsbing, 1990) xii i . 5 "Because works like Chretien's romances are to be read on the literary level alone, without reference to allegorical meanings, and because the literal level, as we have seen, lacks the divinely authoritative unity and harmony found by exegetes on the spiritual level(s), such works may seem mysterious or contradictory and thus require the reader's active participation in solving their mysteries, answering their unanswered questions, or filling in their 'blanks' or 'gaps.' However, without the guidance that allegorical works find in church doctrine (and which even non-religious allegories provide, since their symbolic meanings determine their literal actions), the reader o f such works can never be certain that any one interpretation is true or correct; these works remain to some extent ambiguous, their meaning ^determinate." Robert S. Sturges, Medieval interpretation: Models of Reading in Literary Narrative, 1100-1500 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991) 33. 6 One o f the earlier studies entirely devoted to the character o f Gauvain is by Jessie Weston, who considers the Conte du graal to be an early version o f the "Gawain story," as she discusses in Chapter 3 o f her book. She points out a possible ending for the Gawain portion: "Chretien would have left Gawain lord and master of the Chateau Merveil, as Perceval was o f the Grail Castle." Jessie L . Weston, The Legend of Sir Gawain, (London: David Nutt, 1897) 42. The problem with Weston's assessment is that Perceval was never established as the "master" o f the Grail Castle in Chretien's tale. I l l Le Conte du graal Gauvain's adventures are interrupted by the death o f the author. Indeed, there are only three distinct narrative units for Gauvain whereas the Perceval section, as shall be shown, contains five major units. Due to the unfinished state o f the Gauvain portion, I wi l l concentrate upon Perceval's adventures which offer a complete narrative program, more appropriate for semiotic analysis. In this chapter, I examine Chretien's narrative for the fantastic in the structure, themes and content that form Perceval's adventures. The creation o f a structural formula for the narrative emerges from the supposition that the fantastic as a mode is revealed in the deep structure of texts (see Chapter 2). The approach is one that seeks to find openness in the narrative plan as a means o f evaluating the impact of the fantastic mode on the development o f any given adventure. B y foirmlizing the structure in terms o f openness, it is possible to comprehend the various structures and messages the author has encoded into a narrative that create a sense o f /otherness/ and mystery characteristic o f the fantastic. B y seeking insight into the formulation of the fantastic mode, I also hope to reveal the structure o f Perceval's adventures as one o f openness that is able to be interpreted on multiple levels. That is, the structure (as encoded by the author) shifts according to which character's point o f view is adopted in the process o f narration. The structure for Perceval is different than that which is associated with the widow and with King Arthur. 112 Le Conte du graal 3.1. Segmenting the Narrative In order to establish an orderly progression for this discussion of Perceval's adventures in Le Conte du graal, I begin with an analysis of the syntagmatic aspects o f the narrative plan before addressing the paradigmatic. It is often necessary to expose as many levels o f structuring as possible, both the logical infrastructures that form around actants, and the more obvious level o f episodes and points of view. The task o f constructing a framework for this narrative begins with the identification of as many o f the initial conditions as possible. Todorov has described the recit as a succession o f states linked by intermediary actions, forming a structure framed by homologous initial and final situations: U n recit ideal commence par une situation stable qu'une force quelconque vient perturber. II en resulte un etat de desequilibre; par Paction d'une force dirigee en sens inverse, l'equilibre est retabli; le second equilibre est bien semblable au premier mais les deux ne sont jamais identiques. II y a par consequent deux types d'episodes dans un recit: ceux qui decrivent un etat (d'equilibre ou de desequilibre) et ceux qui decrivent le passage d'un etat a 1'autre.7 Todorov's classification o f episodes into states o f being and states o f becoming 8 allows the text to be characterized according to static and dynamic modalities which interact to form the structure o f content. In applying my structural model to Le Conte du graal, I wi l l first 7 Tzvetan Todorov, Qu'est-ce que le structuralisme: Poetique (Paris: Seuil, 1973) 82. 8 See section 2.3.1 and Figure 2.2 of this dissertation for a discussion o f the need to return to a state o f equilibrium. 113 Le Conte du graal determine the states o f being for Perceval and then examine how they are interconnected in order to proceed logically with the analysis.9 A s the central, heroic character, Perceval reveals five distinct states o f being, three of disjunction and two o f conjunction. 1 0 Linking these five states are four transitional voyages, or states o f becoming, that Perceval takes during his adventures: Wales to Logres, Logres to the Grail Castle, the Grail Castle back to Logres, and the on-going quest" to seek the Grail . In all, Perceval, intentionally or not, moves between three distinct realms. A s Perceval matures, his perspective about reality in relation to these realms changes because reality is judged according to a very narrow interpretation o f received knowledge. Each time Perceval applies himself to resolving a disjunction, a new voyage is undertaken. These trips are all initiated by Perceval as a means to gain an object, first knighthood (referred to as O k ) then reunion with 9 Greimas sets forth in his "Elements d'une grammaire narrative" the idea that narrative structures are logically anterior to their linguistic manifestations, thereby suggesting that the primary goal is to determine the states before linking them performatively. A . J. Greimas, "Elements d'une grammaire narrative" L 'Homme : Revue francaise d'anthropologic, V o l . 9, N° 3 (1969): 71-92. 1 0 See Appendix A for an explanation of conjunctive and disjunctive states. 1 1 Keith Busby defines a quest as "... the deeds of an Erec or an Yvain; in other words, a quest can be an adventure, or a series o f adventures, the goal o f which is the resolution o f a personal or social problem experienced by the hero. Thus, actions carried out with the aim o f acquiring los and pris, when divorced from a quest for love, may be described as adventure, and not as a part o f a quest." Keith Busby, Gauvain in Old French Literature (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1980) 391. (Emphasis in the original.) 114 Le Conte du graal his mother ( O m ) and finally the Grail ( O g ) . The contents of Perceval's story in Le Conte du graal may be initially represented (Table 3.1) as a series o f conjunctive and disjunctive states from Perceval's point o f view. Table 3.1—General structure for Perceval's adventures Narrative unit State Performative action A p Perceval in Wales Disjunction— knighthood S u O K Initiates voyage to Logres Bp Perceval in Logres Disjunction—mother Initiates voyage to Wales, arrives instead at the S u O M Grail Castle C p Perceval at the Grail Disjunction—Grail Returns to Logres Castle S u O G Dp Perceval in Logres Conjunction— knighthood S n O K Wanders through Logres, arrives at hermit's chapel E p Perceval at the Conjunction—maternal Permanent state of voyaging hermit's chapel relative S n~ O M B y acknowledging his desire for a particular object, Perceval is forced to choose a course o f action that wi l l resolve the disjunction he experiences with that object. Thus each o f the states provokes a performative action by the hero—in this case, a voyage. Perceval does not travel as a means o f actively seeking adventures, but various adventures do take place as a consequence o f his personal goals. The distribution o f content remains to be developed by a closer analysis o f the actual text, with particular attention to the way those divisions o f the content resolve or prolong disjunction. 1 2 See Appendix A for a description o f the symbols and formulae used to describe the narrative structure according to the Greimassian method. 115 Le Conte du graal 3.1.1. The Initial Situation in Wales The initial scene o f Le Conte du graal reveals an equilibrium to Perceval's established routine: The reader observes a carefree young man setting out to visit men working in the field. This equihbrium is broken by the noisy clatter and racket o f five approaching knights. The introductory narrative unit is composed o f three episodes: 1. Perceval meets the knights 2. Perceval takes leave o f his mother 3. Perceval departs for Logres Perceval's first encounter with the Arthurian world occurs in the Waste Forest 1 3 near his mother's house—"Ensi an la forest s'an antre" (1. 85). When Perceval hears the knights, he assumes, as his mother had taught him, that the approaching creatures must be devils (11. 113-115), then upon seeing them mistakes the knights for angels (11. 137-138). The use o f ironic comedy in this scene heightens the narrative tension through the contrasting use of extremes and stereotypes.1 4 Comic irony (directed derisively against the hero) emerges in the story in 1 3 The forests as fantastic space is discussed in sections 2.6.1 and 3.4.2 o f this dissertation. 14 "Narrative perspective in the poem is complicated by the inscription o f opposing points of view which frequently constitute, or coincide with, established modes o f evaluation and judgment. For example, the knights riding through the Waste Forest judge the comically innocent Perceval from the standpoint of courtly society (Welshmen are stupid and ignorant, the boy is worse than most, e t c . ) . This is a view with which Chretien's narrator sympathizes in part, quite naturally because he is addressing a courtly audience, and one which he supports in his own ironic treatment o f his hero." Pickens, op. cit., xxii . 116 Le Conte du graal the guise o f Perceval's misapprehension o f auditory reality. This one episode in the forest has a two-fold purpose—it initiates his quest for knighthood and sets up the paradox of Perceval. 1 5 The forest encounter portrays Perceval as a naive and uneducated fool. In unit B p , the paradox is completely formed when he is declared to be the greatest knight ever born. Examining this narrative unit based on the cycle described in Figure 2.2, 1 6 one sees that Perceval's first experience with the Arthurian world fits the pattern described by Eco and Todorov. The initial state of equilibrium and peace is broken by an event (11. 100-112) that is falsely interpreted as supernatural. Perceval initially reacts in fear and hesitation (11. 113-116). He then questions the instructions o f his mother (1. 119) and finally integrates the knights into his paradigm of reality (11. 332-334). The maturation process for Perceval evolves from a position o f equilibrium to a situation o f instability by means o f a change o f state.1 7 The change that he undergoes is accomplished through the revealing of a secret. He gains the knowledge that enables him to expand his view o f the world. 1 5 "Paradox lies at the very foundation of the Conte del Graal." Rupert T. Pickens The Welsh Knight: Paradoxicality in Chretien's Conte del Graal, French Forum N° 6, (Lexington: French Forum, 1977) 32. 1 6 See page 75. 1 7 Perceval is going from a static state o f being to a dynamic state o f becoming. See the above discussion about Todorov, page 113. 117 Le Conte du graal Perceval, as the subject o f narration, is separated from knighthood, the object which he seeks to obtain in his subsequent travels. A s the first narrative unit for Perceval, A p may be subdivided into three episodes, where the first episode is represented by the semiotic formula A p l = S u 0 K (S = Perceval and 0 K = knighthood). When Perceval returns home, he announces to his mother his intention to travel to Arthur's court and be knighted. Thus, Perceval accepts the implied challenge o f his experience and decides to leave the only place he has known (Wales) to go to a new realm (Logres). The performative action o f traveling to Logres prefigures Perceval's change of narrative state from ignorant youth to knight. Perceval, in seeking to resolve one disjunction creates a second, more insurmountable disjunction between himself and his mother: Ap2 = S u O M . This first narrative unit serves to set up two conflicting, yet co-existent goals for the young Perceval, represented as Ap3 = S u O m + k , where he experiences separation from both goals. In order to pursue the goal o f becoming a knight, he must leave his mother. It is the disjunction from his mother that constitutes the common underlying theme which connects the subsequent narrative units. 3.1.2. Perceval's Quest for Knighthood The second major narrative unit B p , Perceval's adventures in Logres, is comprised o f two major stages that divide into five episodes. First there are the events at the court o f Arthur, which make up the first three episodes. Then his subsequent travels through Logres are detailed in the last two episodes. 118 Le Conte du graal 1. Perceval insults the maiden in the tent 2. Perceval arrives at Arthur's court 3. Perceval defeats the Red Knight 4. Perceval receives training from Gornemant de Gohort 5. Perceval saves Biaurepaire and Blancheflor On his way to Arthur's court, Perceval encounters a maiden in a tent. He acts upon his mother's instructions about courtly behavior and consequently insults the maiden. This episode serves to highlight the extent o f Perceval's disjunction in relation to his goal o f knighthood. Misinterpreted communication is the primary cause for Perceval's conflict with the maiden. He does not have any education in the social graces. This first episode, B p l , confirms the formula S u O k and prefigures the negative aspects o f Perceval's reception at Arthur's court. The first voyage finds its culmination at the court of King Arthur, where the second half o f Perceval's paradox is announced in the form o f a prophetic statement by the laughing lady in episode Bp2. B y his violent reaction to the prophecy, K e u initiates a conflict involving Perceval, King Arthur, and himself. 1 8 Arthur makes no attempt to resolve the separation between Perceval and the court until much later in the narrative. Arthur thus fails in his traditional role of being the Sender (one who requires the hero to pursue a quest). Perceval 1 8 Levels o f conflict within the narrative are discussed in section 3.2 below. 119 Le Conte du graal goes out to gain knighthood in spite o f Arthur, rather than because o f him. Curiously, later in Bp3, Perceval claims that he was knighted by Arthur when in fact the king had only offered to let him train with the knights. 1 9 After Perceval leaves Arthur's court, there is a series o f adventures and encounters that serve to educate the young knight in the art of chivalry according to the Arthurian world. In each o f these episodes, Perceval incrementally obtains the trappings o f knighthood. In Bp3, he gains his armor by defeating the Red Knight. Gornemant de Gohort attaches his spurs in a ceremony as part o f B p 4 , when Perceval receives training. B p 5 is comprised o f deeds o f valor and he gains a lady's love. Each episode is formularized as S n ~ O k , indicating a partial conjunction. However, even though Perceval is now a knight, he is still separated from Arthur's court. The goal o f knighthood established in A p has been transformed in B P into a more complex desire to avenge Keu's insults and rejoin the court. Therefore Arthurian knighthood as a goal remains incomplete until the conflict with K e u can be resolved and Perceval can be fully integrated into Arthur's court. 1 9 Compare 11. 1006-1030 and 11. 1278-1284 (where Arthur rebukes K e u for having mocked the young Welshman who would have received training at the court) to 11. 3941^15 where Perceval claims to have been made a knight by Arthur. 120 Le Conte du graal 3.1.3. Perceval at the Grail Castle After completing his training as a knight, rescuing Blancheflor and liberating Biaurepaire, Perceval desires to return to his mother in Wales. This is an attempt by Perceval to resolve the disjunction created between his mother and himself that was established in episode Ap2. There are three episodes in narrative unit C p : 1. Perceval meets the Fisher King 2. Perceval arrives at the Grail Castle 3. Perceval leaves the Grail Castle Perceval's concept of reality, associated with Wales (as was seen for the initial narrative unit), has been totally reversed so that Logres is now the standard for reality. This reversal is due to his successful achievement o f knighthood and its trappings in B p . The masculine world has assumed the status o f the real world, and the otherworld is now the feminine realm, 2 0 due to Perceval's mother being there. While traveling, Perceval sees a boat with two men in it in the middle o f the river. His main voyage is diverted and, rather than crossing the river, the young knight is directed to the Grail Castle by the Fisher King. Perceval has been turned back 2 0 Aubailly states, "Mais [ces recits] soulevent aussi le probleme de la difficile conciliation entre le monde arthurien, figure de la societe feodale, regi par des normes et des valeurs patriarcales, et le monde mythique de 1'Au-Dela apprehende a travers une vision qui se rattache aux residus archaiques des religions de la Grande Deesse Mere (le Monde de 1'Au-Dela est un monde de femmes)." Aubailly, La fee..., 100. 121 Le Conte du graal at the moment when he was the closest to achieving full conjunction with his mother ( C p l = S u O M ) . In the Grail Castle, Perceval converses with the Fisher King. While they are waiting for dinner to be served, three processions corresponding to three objects take place: the sword, the bleeding lance, and the Grail (all o f which represent types o f /otherness/2 1 in the narrative). Perceval doesn't speak or inquire about the things he has seen. For his silence, Perceval is criticized by the narrator (11. 3209-3219). Perceval is given many chances during dinner to ask questions about the Grail Procession, but still keeps silent (11. 3256-3277). One later learns that the Fisher King is a maternal relative o f Perceval. Therefore Perceval continues his rejection o f the feniinine world by his lack o f participation in the Grail mysteries. This episode is Cp2 = S u O G . The next morning, when Perceval awakens, all o f the inhabitants are gone. The castle is deserted, 2 2 thus implying that the court of the Fisher King has returned to its own realm. Perceval's opportunity, where the supernatural world and the real world co-existed for one night, has been lost because o f his silence. I f we consider this sequence as the third unit for 2 1 See section 3.4.1 below. 2 2 Other examples o f deserted castles are found in Partenopeus de Blois and Guingamor. For a further discussion, see Chapter 5. 122 Le Conte du graal Perceval, it may be referred to as Cp3, where Cp3 = S u 0 M + G , where both knowledge of the Grail and reunion with his mother have eluded his grasp. The otherworld rejects Perceval by denying him passage across the river and entry into the supernatural realm. Perceval has learned too well how to be a knight to be allowed into the otherworld. In turn Perceval, by hesitating to ask the necessary question, implicitly rejects the supernatural aspects of the Fisher King 's castle (relying on the courtly, irasculine model as taught to him by Gornemant de Gohort). I f he had asked the questions (and relied on the maternal, feminine model o f communication), then he would have participated in the Grail Procession. The opportunity to ask his host about the procession is lost and the mystery o f the Grail Castle remains. B y failing to accept the adventure and enter into the mysterious rites o f the Grail Procession, he adopts an etrange2^1 interpretation of these events. Perceval's interpretation is confirmed by his attitude the following morning and later when discussing the situation with his cousin. 3.1.4. Perceval Rejoins Arthur's Court The fourth narrative unit, like the second, is comprised of two major stages that may be divided into five episodes. First there are the adventures as Perceval travels back into Logres, 2 3 For a definition oi etrange, see section 1.2.1. 123 Le Conte du graal which are the first two episodes. Then subsequent events that reunite him with Arthur's court comprise the last three episodes: 1. Perceval meets his cousin 2. Perceval defeats the Proud Knight o f the Heath 3. Perceval defeats K e u and Sagremors 4. Perceval rejoins Arthur's court 5. The Hideous Damsel speaks at Arthur's court Upon leaving the Grail Castle, Perceval intended to pursue some o f the members o f the Fisher King's household into the forest to ask them about the procession. Even when the drawbridge closes, seemingly by itself, Perceval persistently tries to explain the absence of people by surmising that they have gone hunting. B y attempting to rationalize the absence o f people in the Grail Castle, Perceval considers his adventures to be etrange. Perceval rides into the forest and comes upon a maiden mourning a dead knight. She is astonished at the sight o f him: "Mes mout me mervoil de grant fin" (1. 3432). Her reaction mirrors that of the Fisher King when he encountered Perceval at the river. The maiden correctly guesses that Perceval has lodged at the Grail Castle. She is his cousin (11. 3564-3567) and by her ability to interpret the Grail mysteries is associated with the ferninine world model. Because she is affiliated with Perceval's mother, she is capable of properly interpreting the significance o f the Grail Procession as merveilleux (11. 3549-3567). Perceval pragmatically concludes that the dead should take care of the dead (1. 3596), again proposing an etrange 124 Le Conte du graal interpretation o f the events. A s the first episode o f the fourth narrative segment, this unit may be represented as D p l = S n ~ O k . Perceval has, by this time, totally rejected the feminine world o f his mother and its messengers. Perceval then encounters a wretched lady on a thin palfrey. This is the lady of the Proud Knight of the Heath. In this encounter (11. 3657-3960), Perceval is given the opportunity to right the wrong he had previously done to her (11. 617-813). He defeats the Proud Knight and sends him and his lady to King Arthur's court. B y operating according to the courtly, masculine world model, Perceval atones for the wrongs he did when previously operating from the maternal, feminine world model. He is now reversing the errors o f former actions that were based on ignorance o f chivalrous conduct and therefore Dp2 = S n ~ O K . The next episode is the complement to the second episode in unit B p and involves the integration o f Perceval into the Arthurian court. In the morning, Perceval sets off to pursue chivalric adventures2 4 (11. 4130-4133). He hesitates at the sound o f the geese flying overhead and remains frozen in contemplation o f three drops of blood on the snow (11. 4168^4181). This hesitation is etrange rather than fantastic as the narrator gives a perfectly logical explanation for the phenomenon. In Todorov's definition o f the fantastic, hesitation by the hero was the definitive qualifier o f what is and is not fantastic. A s I stated in Chapter 1,1 do 2 4 This is the first time that Perceval consciously sets out to pursue adventures according to the tradition o f the wandering knight. 125 Le Conte du graal not believe that hesitation by itself is enough to warrant a fantastic interpretation o f an event. Instead, as is seen here, the hesitation is logically explained by the narrator. Todorov's hesitation is explicitly tied to an event where supernatural and natural orders are in conflict. In Perceval's hesitation, no supernatural influence is evident. Three different knights come out to challenge Perceval while he is daydreaming—Sagremors, Keu , and Gauvain. He defeats K e u and Sagremors in episode Dp3 = S n ~ O k . Finally Gauvain is sent out to reason with the unknown knight. I f Perceval had defeated all three knights it would have represented a total defeat and rejection o f Arthur's world order. Instead, Perceval is won back into that society by the kindness, restraint, and reason o f Gauvain. 2 5 The final episode (Dp5) in this unit concerns the arrival o f the Hideous Damsel. She makes a speech that is very similar in nature to that o f the Perceval's cousin at the beginning o f this narrative unit ( D p l ) . Both refer to Perceval as "maleureus" (11. 3548, 4628). They also both allude to his silence as a sin brought about by the abandonment o f his mother in A^l. Both women also correctly interpret the consequences o f Perceval's silence and blame it upon his successful pursuit o f knighthood. He has finally achieved a full state o f conjunction with O K , making this episode D p 5 = S n O K . 2 5 Keith Busby states that one o f the primary activities o f Gauvain is to bring knights to court, "On occasions where knights refuse to come to court o f their own free will , Gauvain is sent to persuade them to do so." Busby, Gauvain 384. 126 Le Conte du graal 3.1.5. Perceval at the Hermit's Chapel The next narrative sequence concerning Perceval occurs five years after the dispersion o f knights from Arthur's courts (11. 6183-6189). The closing narrative unit is composed of three episodes: 1. Perceval meets the pilgrims 2. Perceval talks with the hermit 3. Perceval seeks the Grail Castle Perceval wanders about for five years, and virtually ignores his pledge (11. 4693-4706) to seek the answers to his questions about the Grail Procession. This episode, E p l = S u O M + C is not directly included in the narrative, but only alluded to in Perceval's conversation with the pilgrims on Good Friday. 2 6 He arrives at the dwelling o f a holy hermit in the forest. Perceval discusses his adventures with the hermit who interprets them and provides the answers to his questions about the Grail Procession. Perceval now knows the answer to his question o f what the Grail signifies and who is served from it. He has been absolved of his initial sin o f separation from his mother. This episode is part two o f the fifth narrative unit for Perceval, 2 6 Pickens asserts that this five-year period, which is virtually unaccounted for in the Graal, serves to provide continuity with Perceval's adventures as recounted in Cliges and Erec et Enide. "In writing Li Contes del Graal Chretien, in effect, provides the 'adolescent adventures' (enfances) o f the knight who, in his first two romances, appears to be an accepted figure in the Arthurian court, a fixture at the Round Table; thus, in terms o f this hero's biography, the events in Chretien's last romance predate those o f his first two." Pickens, op. cit., xxi . 127 Le Conte du graal namely Ep2, representing the resolution of the disjunction of Perceval, the subject, with Perceval's mother, the object ( 0 M ) . This narrative unit may be represented as Ep2 = S n ~ O m . Even though Perceval does not obtain an earthly reunion with his mother (due to her physical death), he achieves spiritual unity with her through the absolution o f his sins. Episode Ep2 also gives closure to the scene at the river ( C p l ) , where Perceval was denied entrance into the otherworld. Because o f his repentance, Perceval has nominally accomplished the reunion that was denied him at the river. The adventure of the Grail Procession at the Fisher King 's castle (Cp2) remains unresolved. Perceval has learned the answers to his questions but the Fisher King 's infirrnity lingers. Perceval must therefore wander for the rest of his days (11. 6434-6439). This final ongoing voyage represents the third episode, Ep3 = S u O g . Chretien mentions in 11. 6474-6478 that he wi l l speak again o f Perceval. However, as Le Conte du graal remains an urifinished work, one can only speculate as to the eventual narrative resolution o f Cp2. Both Bp and C p contain threads o f the narrative program that remain unresolved and may be potential sources for further action, namely his promise to return to Biaurepaire and his failure to save the Grail kingdom. Based on the above syntagmatic analysis o f the text, it is now possible to refine the preliminary structure for Perceval's adventures in Le Conte du graal by dividing the narrative units into episodes (Table 3 .2) : 2 7 2 7 The shaded areas represent the fantastic. See Appendix A for a resume o f the symbols and formulae. 128 Le Conte du graal Table 3.2—Refined structure for Perceval's adventures Narrative unit Episode State Performative action A p Perceval in Wales Bp Perceval in Logres C |> I'cicevdl al the Grail I astle Dp Perceval in Logres E p Perceval with the hermit A p l (Perceval meets the knights) Ap2 (Perceval talks with his mother) Ap3 (Perceval leaves Wales) B p l (Perceval insults the maiden) Bp2 (Perceval at Arthur's court) Bp3 (Perceval defeats the Red Knight) Bp4 (Perceval receives training) Bp5 (Perceval at Biaurepaire) C ,,1 (IVuxval meets the 1 ishei king) Cp2 (Heicevdl al the Giail, Castle) 'C ,,3 (Pciccval-lcdvcs the Cu ail C astle) Dpi (Perceval meets his cousin) Dp2 (Perceval defeats the Proud Knight) Dp3 (Perceval pauses in the snowy meadow) Dp4 (Perceval joins Arthur's court) Dp5 (The Hideous Damsel condemns Perceval) E p l (Perceval meets the pilgrims) Ep2 (Perceval talks with the hermit) Ep3 (Perceval seeks the Grail) Disjunction—knighthood S u O K Disjunction— mother S u O M Disjunction—knighthood and mother S u O K + M Disjunction—knighthood S u O K Disjunction—knighthood S u O K Partial conjunction—knighthood S n ~ 0 K Partial conjunction—knighthood S n ~ O K Partial conjunction—knighthood S n ~ 0 K Dis|LiiKtion mothu Disjunction Giail Distinction mothei and Grail Partial conjunction—knighthood S O ~ O K Partial conjunction—knighthood S n ~ 0 K Partial conjunction—knighthood S n ~ O K Partial conjunction—Arthur's knights S n O K Full conjunction—knighthood S n O K Disjunction—mother and Grail Partial conjunction—mother S n ~ O w Disjunction—Grail S u Gv Initiates voyage to Logres Initiates voyage to Wales Returns io t ogres Wanders through Logres Permanent state of voyaging 129 Le Conte du graal Some basic observations about the structure o f the narrative program for Le Conte du graal may prove to be beneficial at this point. Units A p , C p , and E p mirror each other and are connected to the feminine, maternal wor ld . 2 8 Each o f these units contains three parallel episodes (Table 3.3). Each o f the initial episodes finds Perceval wandering through a forest. The second episode o f each segment contains a transitional event that changes Perceval's perspective o f reality and provokes a performative action on his part. The performative action is found in the third episode o f each unit and is always a voyage in search o f an object. A,>3 is Perceval's voyage to Logres to seek knighthood. C p 3 is Perceval's voyage back to Logres to find Arthur's court. E p 3 is Perceval's search for the Grail. This pattern corresponds to Todorov's states o f being and states o f becoming 2 9 in that Perceval starts out each episode in a state o f being or equilibrium.The various adventures force him into a state o f becoming, first a knight, then a redemptor and finally a seeker. The fantastic mode is operative during these states o f becoming. 2 8 "The hero goes out and returns to and from points on two axes, but successive pivotal episodes are modulations o f the preceding episodes on the same axis. Just as the Waste Forest, the Grail Castle, and the hermitage episodes refer to each other incrementally, but are not exactly the same thing, which is obvious, so Arthur and the Arthurian court are different at Carduel and at Carlion, where the court is 'based' when it meets Perceval on the snowy plain." Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 53. 2 9 See Todorov's Qu'est-ce que le structuralisme..., passim. 130 Le Conte du graal —Parallel structure for Perceval's adventures in feminine realms Unit C p Unit E p Table 3.3 Unit A p A p l (Perceval meets the knights) Ap2 (Perceval talks with his mother in Wales) Ap3 (Perceval leaves Wales to seek knighthood) Cpl (Perceval meets the Fisher King) Cp2 (Perceval talks with the Fisher King at the Grail Castle) Cp3 (Perceval leaves the Grail Castle to seek Arthur's court) E p l (Perceval meets the pilgrims on the road) Ep2 (Perceval talks with the hermit at the chapel) Ep3 (Perceval leaves the chapel to seek the Grail) In the process of becoming a knight and being integrated into Arthur's court, Perceval experiences several adventures that clearly align with the masculine, Arthurian model of conduct. Unit B P accounts the formative process of knighthood for Perceval. During these events, Perceval commits many errors. He insults maidens, behaves rudely in Arthur's court, and chatters incessantly. In unit D P , he seems to be reversing or correcting all the mistakes made in the earlier Arthurian unit, B P (Table 3.4). Especially significant is the resolution of Perceval's paradox and the falfillrnent of the Laughing Lady's prophecy. Table 3.4—Reversed structure for Perceval's adventures in Logres Unit Bp Unit D p Reversal B p l (Perceval insults Dp5 (The Hideous Perceval uses false communication; the maiden) Damsel insults Perceval) Perceval receives true communication. Bp2 (Perceval at Dp4 (Perceval joins The paradox is announced; Arthur's court) Arthur's court) the paradox is resolved. Bp3 (Perceval defeats Dp3 (Perceval defeats Perceval avenges the King's insult; the Red Knight) Sagremors and Keu) Perceval avenges Keu's insults. Bp4 (Perceval receives Dp2 (Perceval defeats the Perceval learns the skills of knighthood; training) Proud Knight) Perceval acts as a true knight. Bp5 (Perceval at D p l (Perceval meets his Perceval sets out for Wales; Biaurepaire) cousin) Perceval abandons the trip to Wales. 131 Le Conte du graal Overall, the real structural principle underlying Perceval's adventures is perhaps that o f disruption ( or a lack o f equilibrium) and the resulting tragedy. According to the theory o f Gustav Freytag, 3 0 Le Conte du graal fits the structure o f a tragedy. The five movements o f Freytag's pyramid—Exposition, Complication, Climax, Reversal, and Catastrophe—match the five units o f Perceval's adventures. The exposition o f Perceval as a paradoxical character is initiated in A p . His character is further complicated by the combination o f uncouth and chivalrous actions that typify his adventures in B p . The central scene o f the Grail Castle, for which the narrative is named, surely fits the definition o f a climax. 3 1 A s noted above, the events o f D p reverse Perceval's actions and errors committed in B p . Finally, the overwhelming dispersal o f Arthur's knights can only be characterized as a catastrophe for the king and kingdom. The fate o f the Fisher King also represents the continuation o f a tragedy. When the Graal is viewed as a tragedy, the events that precede and follow Perceval's adventure are clearly associated with the link between a king's health and the prosperity o f the land. The widow's lands are wasted and their ruler is dead. The Fisher King 's kingdom is caught between the real world and the otherworld. His people and lands remain perpetually unhealed, a state which characterizes the conflict between masculine and feminine worlds. 3 0 Gustav Freytag, Technique of the Drama, trans. E . J. M c E w a n (Chicago: Griggs, 1894). 3 1 Climax is defined as "The point o f greatest tension; the culminating point in a progressive intensification. In traditional plot structure, the climax constitutes the highest point o f the rising action." Prince, Dictionary..., 14. 132 Le Conte du graal Chretien skillfully creates a sense o f apocalyptic doom hanging over Arthur's kingdom. A question that implicitly demands resolution is inherent in the correlation between the three realms: W i l l the same fate befall Arthur's lands as has already occurred in Wales and the Fisher King 's lands? The narrative does not give any indication o f an answer or of hope that the conflict wi l l be positively resolved. 3.2. Levels of conflict Perceval undertakes four distinct voyages in the course o f his adventure and, intentionally or not, moves between three worlds. In the preceding syntagmatic analysis of the text it was determined that these voyages are all initiated by Perceval as a meians to reach various goals: knighthood, reunion with his mother, and finally knowledge o f the Grail. A number o f textual disjunctions are engendered or revealed by these voyages: 1. The conflict between masculine and feminine realms 2. The paradox o f Perceval 3. The search for the Red Knight 4. The quest for the Grail. 3.2.1. The Conflict Between the Masculine and Feminine Realms The preliminary conflict is enunciated by the widow. Her anguished explanation to her son Perceval reveals a blight that endured for a long time: "Les terres furent escillies / Et les povres gens avillies" (11. 447-448). Conditions have not improved and evil has increased (11. 428^-34). The image o f a war-torn land is associated with Perceval's father, his brothers, 133 Le Conte du graal and all knights. Under these conditions, Perceval's lack o f instruction is deliberate and calculated to keep him from the masculine influence o f knights and courtly customs of conduct. It is against a background of an imperiled Arthurian court that the discontinuity between Perceval's actions and his words achieve their maximum significance. For not only are the widow's lands devastated, but Arthur's realm is also imperiled. Later in the narrative, the words o f the Hideous Damsel extend the damage into the future. She notes, using the same verbal construct as the widow, that because o f Perceval's reticence "Terres an seront essilliees" (1. 4645); the wasting and ruin wil l continue. The five knights represent the intrusion o f the Arthurian world into Perceval's world. In contrast, there is the feminine world o f peace and isolation, Wales, embodied in Perceval's mother. 3 2 Thus we see the first instance in this romance where two distinct and opposing world views come into contact (Figure 3.1): 3 2 Speaking o f the genealogical stories that Perceval's mother transmits to liim at the beginning, o f Le Conte du graal, Donald Maddox writes, "Together, these stories gradually unveil an idealized dimension in which the boundary between maternal and paternal genealogies and images is blurred, converging toward a single image from the two anterior orders they evoke." Donald Maddox, "Specular Stories, Family Romance, and the Fictions o f Courtly Culture," Exemplaria, V o l . 3, N° 2, (1991) 311. Danielle Regnier-Bohler notes in reference to the Perlesvaus, "Certes c'est en monade mere-fille que le monde feminin apparait d'abord" indicating that the presence o f a feminine ruler creates a feminine world in this later work about the character o f Perceval. Danielle Regnier-Bohler, " L a fonction symbolique du feminin: Le savoir des meres, le secret des soeurs et le devenir des heros", Arthurian Romance and Gender/ Masculinffeminin dans le roman arthurien medieval/ Geschlechterrollen im mittelalterlichen Artusroman, ed. Friedrich Wolfzettel (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 1995) 21. 134 Le Conte du graal Forest (intersection) Figure 3.1—Model of Perceval's initial situation The crisis in Arthur's kingdom is personified by the Red Knight, who has stolen the King 's cup and insulted the queen. While rudely pursuing his own desire for knighthood, Perceval unwittingly becomes the only defender of the court when he unceremoniously defeats the Red Knight. During the journey from Arthur's court to Biaurepaire, Perceval learns how to behave in the world of men and how not to act according to the ferninine model he had previously learned from his mother. These episodes also serve to increase his reputation and fame as a knight in that the events still take place in Logres and are the fulfillment o f Perceval's training according to the Arthurian, masculine model o f behavior. A further level o f deterioration in Arthur's kingdom becomes evident in the siege at Biaurepaire. The ferninine and masculine are more directly in conflict, as manifested in the opposition o f Blancheflor to the overtures of Clamadeu through Anguigeron. Thus on three different levels—wasted lands, traitorous knights assailing their lords, and attacks on women—there are serious, long-standing conflicts between the masculine and feminine modes of conduct. 135 Le Conte du graal The hermit indicates that Perceval was unable to ask the proper questions at the Grail Castle because o f his original sin o f leaving his mother (11. 6358b-6385). Thus, by the words of the hermit, the initial narrative formula o f Ap2 = S u O m is corifirmed. Namely, the separation o f Perceval (S) from his mother ( O m ) results in the narrative chain A p — > B P — > C P , so that by inference A p — > C P . Specifically, the initial sin o f leaving his mother, and the maternal, feminine world for the Arthurian, rriasculine world, causes his failure to speak at the Grail Castle. 3 3 This failure may be defined in terms o f a disjunction between the masculine and feminine worlds. The most poignant articulation of this situation is made by Perceval's cousin, the Weeping Maiden, in D p l : "Mes or saches que grant enui/ E n avandra toi et autrui./ Por le pechie, ce saches tu,/ De ta mere t'est avenu," (1. 3557-3560). Perceval's discussion with his cousin mirrors his previous encounter with the knights in A p l . There he misinterpreted the significance o f the five knights and their arms, choosing to react as i f he were in the presence of the supernatural. In segment D p l , he also misinterprets the role of the objects in the procession, persisting in believing that there was nothing extraordinary about the experience. 3 3 "Judged in the light o f the Grail, however, the hero's silence results from his sinful abandonment o f his mother, who falls in the Waste Forest. Two ways o f looking at the same thing; but the view o f the Grail axis focuses on the prime cause, in the light o f which the entire process o f socialization is, incrementally, abandonment o f his mother, while the courtly assessment emphasizes an effect in the long sequence o f causally linked events beginning with the same sin which is, however, beyond the purview o f psychological realism." Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 98. 136 Le Conte du graal What should have been interpreted as etrange in the first example was experienced as merveilleux and vice versa. This mixing o f interpretations reveals a use o f the fantastic mode in dealing with Perceval's reactions, as the confusion between reality and the supernatural is inherent to the definition of the fantastic developed in Chapter 2. Perceval embodies the conflict between the masculine and feminine worlds. This conflict is textually actualized when Perceval decides to leave Wales and is most clearly enunciated in the paradoxical statements o f the Laughing Lady. 3.2.2. The Paradox of Perceval The words o f the Laughing Lady reveal a paradox that causes controversy in the court. Chretien has successfully established another level of tension in the narrative—namely how is the image o f Perceval as a naive youth going to be reconciled with the lady's prophecy that no greater knight exists or wi l l exist in the history of chivalry? The narrator creates such a wide gap between the reality o f Perceval's uneducated simplicity and his desire to be knighted that there is an increased level o f shock and surprise produced by the pronouncement by the lady: "Vaslez, se tu viz par aaige, Je pans et croi an mon coraige Qu'an trestot le monde n'avra N ' i l n'ert, ne l'anne l ' i savra, N u l meillor chevalier do toi. Ensi le pans et cuit et croi." (11. 1019-1024) Referring to the statement o f the Laughing Lady and the Fool , Pickens writes, "Their statements are paradoxical in that they are unexpected and contrary to all (courtly) reason, yet 137 Le Conte du graal they are true." 3 4 K e u reacts violently to the lady's statement and refuses to accept the paradox or to acknowledge the possibility that there may be a greater knight than himself. The jester has spoken many times about the arrival o f Perceval (11. 1039-1042). Perceval presents a contradiction to the various characters in the real world. He is masculine and yet acts according to feminine dictates. The paradox o f Perceval formalizes the delusive nature 3 5 o f Perceval's adventure, as he is the one who could bring about a reunion of the feminine and masculine. He fails to do so, only because o f the predominance o f the masculine influences in the story. The process o f resolving Perceval's paradox begins when he hesitates upon seeing three drops o f blood in the snow. A s previously noted, this particular hesitation is not fantastic, 3 6 as the narrator gives a perfectly natural explanation for the phenomenon. The true nature o f Perceval's hesitation is less apparent and linked to his tendency to misinterpret signs and language. In this episode, Perceval's reactions are tied to his memories o f Blancheflor and his presence in the meadow is due to the abandonment o f the search for his mother. In terms o f feminine symbolism, each woman represents a different world. Blancheflor is tied to the real 3 4 Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 90. 3 5 For a discussion o f the delusive nature o f the fantastic, see section 2.1 o f this dissertation. 3 6 See page 125. 138 Le Conte du graal world. His mother is aligned with the supernatural wor ld . 3 7 Once again, Perceval is treating a natural phenomenon as i f it were extraordinary. Dp3 represents the fulfillment o f the prophecy by the jester and the completion o f Perceval's promise to the Laughing Lady. Perceval's reversal o f perspectives causes behavior which is interpreted by Sagremors and K e u as unusual and threatening. They therefore approach Perceval as i f he were an enemy. Each time Perceval reacts to an approaching knight, another portion o f the paradox is resolved. First, the defeat o f Sagremors establishes Perceval's stature as a great knight. Secondly, the defeat of K e u completes the prophecy o f the jester. Finally, the meeting with Gauvain brings about a conjunction and merging o f Perceval as the Welshman and Perceval as the Red Knight into one person. Each o f the three resolutions is accomplished through Perceval's continued hesitation and quite obviously none of them is fantastic. The original conflicting images that were initially juxtaposed in the statement o f the laughing lady in the narrative unit Bp2 are finally merged into one cohesive and consistent characterization of Perceval. N o w that Perceval has been fully formed by his adventures, the young knight can finally speak forth his real name with certainty: "Sire, comant avez vos non? / -Percevax, sire." (11. 4448-4449a). Perceval has finally obtained a state o f conjunction with 3 7 See the discussion o f segment C p l above. 139 Le Conte du graal his original goal of becoming a knight. But the achievement far outweighs the original goal in that he has become one of Arthur's knights. 3.2.3. The Search for the Red Knight The Graal contains a second narrative program when viewed from King Arthur's point of view. Arthur repeatedly states that he would like to have Perceval as a member of his court. Perceval's integration into Arthur's entourage also resolves another level of conflict in the story—the disjunction between King Arthur and the Red Knight. When Perceval first arrives at court in Segment Bp2, both the Red Knight and Keu ridicule him. But Perceval remains oblivious to their scorn. King Arthur, while able to recognize his potential, remains silent and is relatively powerless to control the circumstances. The king is unable to retain Perceval as a knight in his court. "Et li rois Artus fu asis/ A u chief d'une table pansis;/ Et tuit li chevalier manjoient,/ Et li un as autres parloient,/ Fors lui qui fu pansis et muz." (11. 887-891). Arthur's lack of control over his seneschal is emphasized by Keu's extreme ability to insult guests. Twice Arthur reproaches Keu for his evil tongue (11. 1220-1224, 2843-2847). As the seneschal, Keu represents Arthur, yet his words convey the exact opposite message to that which the king would wish. In D p4, Arthur sends out his knights, allowing them to speak on his behalf. The only one capable of reading the signs and communicating with Perceval is Gauvain, who convinces Perceval to join the other knights in Arthur's tents. The initial threat to the court by the original Red Knight is converted into a desire to integrate the new Red Knight into Arthurian society. This desire increases throughout the Le Conte du graal narrative as captives are sent to surrender themselves to Arthur. With the arrival o f each new prisoner, the Red Knight, as the object o f Arthur's desire, increases in reputation and stature. Eventually, with the arrival of Clamedeau, Arthur is forced out o f the immobility o f court life into a voyage o f his own. Whereas initially, Perceval undertakes a voyage to seek Arthur, now the king wil l in turn seek Perceval. Arthur's initial appearance in the narrative coincides with Perceval's second narrative unit—B p . The voyage in search o f Perceval begins while Perceval himself is at the Grail Cas t le—C p . A s presented in section 3.1.4, Arthur and Perceval are reunited in D p . The resulting narrative structure from Arthur's quest to seek the Red Knight is a linear one of A A - > B A - > C A , with the first and last narrative units from Perceval's structure framing the king's experience. Arthur's adventure is therefore formulated in terms o f Perceval's experiences. For the first time in a romance by Chretien, Arthur is not the Sender who initiates narrative actions but rather the one who seeks. 3 8 Arthur reacts to the independent actions of an unknown knight. A t this level of structuring, the overall narrative program of the Graal is completely successful. The disjunction created by K e u is resolved by the reasoning powers o f Gauvain. Perceval is integrated into courtly life, proven by his subsequent five years o f service to King Arthur. Since the resolution o f the conflict is achieved 3 8 In all o f Chretien's romances, except Cliges, Arthur sends knights out on quests. In Cliges, while Arthur does not initiate the adventure, neither does he himself get caught up in the action to such a degree that he himself takes on a quest. In the case o f Perceval, Arthur has a definite plan with a clear goal o f finding and appeasing the Red Knight. 141 Le Conte du graal through logic, it represents an etrange scenario according to Todorov's definition o f etrange?9 3.2.4. The Quest for the Grail The fourth level o f conflict is initiated when Perceval and the other knights go in search o f the Grail. " A s they are objects o f narrative, expository and interrogatory discourse, and especially of questions that have remained unarticulated, so the Grail and Bleeding Lance must, because o f Perceval's failure at communication, become objects o f quests, journeys into the unknown during the course of which heroes yield to the powers o f adventure and destiny." 4 0 The mystery o f the Grail is the only disjunction that remains totally unresolved in Perceval's story. B y choosing to pursue the Grail and abandon Arthur, the knights increase the conflict between the real world and the otherworld. They reject the court lifestyle o f reticence and immobility for an adventure that offers both earthly and supernatural rewards. For King Arthur, the return o f Perceval to his retinue eventually brings about a greater loss—a great number of Arthur's knights decide to leave the court. The pronouncements of the Hideous Damsel provoke the exodus o f knights from Arthur's court. The condemnation of the Arthurian mode o f life (where the knights up to this point have remained at court instead 3 9 See section 1.2.1. 4 0 Pickens, "Introduction...," xix. 142 Le Conte du graal going forth into the world) is implied. Because o f the training Perceval received while in the Arthurian realm of Logres, the adventure o f the Grail Procession was unsuccessful. A s a direct result, the very substance o f that Arthurian realm departs from the court and instead seeks the Fisher King 's court. The fantastic mode persists because there is an increase in disjunction which serves to perpetuate the mystery o f the Grail. The various levels of conflict in this first half of Le Conte du graal seemingly form a compounding disaster that culminates in the loss of knights and retainers at Arthur's court. Perceval's actions as he travels from realm to realm initiate a chain-reaction o f loss and depopulation, the results of which are similar to the devastation and wasted state o f Wales at the beginning o f the story. Perceval's failure at the Grail Castle results in its depopulation the following morning. The tragedy of the Fisher King and his court spreads outward to include Arthur's court, where the wasting effects o f miscommunication depopulate the court and threaten to ravage the land. The Hideous Damsel indicates by her words that the king who is fed from the Grail wi l l never be healed to rule again (1. 4640) and various problems wi l l continue to dominate society—ladies wi l l lose their husbands, lands wil l be laid waste, and helpless maidens wi l l be orphaned (11. 4644—4649). These disasters mirror the three levels o f crisis found at the beginning o f the narrative and are clearly associated with Arthur's rule. Thus the initial conflict between masculine and feminine worlds continues to be unresolved. 143 Le Conte du graal 3.3. Communication Models in Le Conte du graal A l l o f the levels o f conflict examined above have one thing in common: the inability to communicate clear and direct messages about the real world. When defrning /otherness/ in section 2.1,1 stated that secrecy and deception are the main ways that the supernatural affects the real world. In the Graal, secrecy and deception comprise the most common types of communication. Perceval's mother creates a secret about knights in order to protect her son. King Arthur experiences a number of losses due to his inability to speak out when necessary. Arthur remains speechless when K e u ridicules Perceval. Throughout the story, K e u cannot control his tongue. In subsequent episodes, Arthur frequently laments his ineffectiveness to retain Perceval in his court. Arthur's inability to intervene on behalf o f Perceval wi l l be mirrored later on in Perceval's silence at the Grail Castle, only with more dire consequences. Arthur, in the episode o f the Hideous Damsel, again is powerless to speak. This time he loses not one, but all the knights from his court as they rush off to seek the Grail. It seems that the only one who can reach Perceval is the hermit, and even then Perceval is taught secret prayers and unutterable words (11. 6448-6455). Clearly communication and the lack thereof are key elements within the narrative program for Le Conte du graal. Secrets and delusion are created by virtue o f the conflict between the masculine and feminine worlds. Figure 3.2 formalizes the relationship between world views and types of communication: 144 Le Conte du graal Feminine Wales/otherworld T a l k a t i v e + ft ^ 4. Wales/otherworld = Feminine + Talkative ' j Logres = Masculine + Silent Secret ! Delusion ! N. ! Secret = Feminine + Silent If ^ Delusion = Masculine + Talkative Silent ^ ^ Masculine Logres Figure 3.2—Semiotic model for communication in the Graal In the ferriinine realm, corrimunication about knighthood is forbidden and therefore knighthood is a secret that is kept from Perceval. The concealment o f knowledge about the real world from Perceval occurs by virtue o f maternal actants in the narrative. However, those who are able to communicate about the supernatural in a clear fashion are also associated with Perceval's mother, which reinforces the association o f speech with the feminine aspects o f the Graal. The first to explain the mysteries o f the Grai l Castle is Perceval's female cousin. Perceval ignores her words, reinforcing his newly-formed affiliation with the Arthurian, rnasculine world o f Logres. The hermit represents the second maternal relative to speak about the Grail mysteries. This time Perceval is receptive to the message, perhaps because the messenger is a man. However, that does not relieve him of his penance for failing to speak at the Grail Procession. Perceval has learned all too well the lessons o f Gornemant and says too little too late. 3.3.1. Secrecy The Graal contains two major secrets. The existence o f knights is kept a secret from Perceval, creating a delusion that he is a fool. The secrets o f the Grail realm are much more deeply held. Information about the Fisher King and his court is revealed incrementally and 145 Le Conte du graal operates on several levels in the narrative program. Thus Chretien is able to create mystery around the central object in this romance. He, as narrator, makes many comments about knighthood in relation to Perceval's thoughts, actions and speech whenever the topic is about Arthurian society and manners. In contrast, this same narrative voice is curiously silent at those moments in the story when the reader most needs clarification and direction about the Grail adventure.4 1 The five knights are deluded by Perceval's talkative nature into labeling him a simpleton. The delusion created by the juxtaposition o f "masculine" and "talkative" is perhaps indicative of the fantastic mode where the semblance o f reality conceals the underlying presence of /otherness/. The information about knighthood is a secret that can easily be unveiled. Training in courtly behavior and the skill associated with knighthood is all that is required for Perceval to rectify his lack of knowledge. His mother has sheltered him in Wales from the devastation she associates with Arthur and his court. It takes Gornemant just a few hours' work to hone Perceval's natural skills before the young man leaves for Biaurepaire. However, there is a second area where Perceval's mother has denied Wm the information he needs to be successful—that is, information about his maternal heritage in relation to the 4 1 Rupert Pickens discusses this aspect o f the narrative voice extensively throughout his article about the prologue and narrative intentions. He states that narrative commentary constitutes 1.3% o f discourse about the Grail , as opposed to 51% direct discourse on the part o f internal characters. Pickens, "Le Conte du graal..." 339, n l 3 . 146 Le Conte du graal Grail kingdom. The location o f the Grail Castle is a secret to the outside world. The Grail Procession and its objects are a mystery. This central narrative unit receives the most commentary from internal characters related to Perceval's mother. 4 2 In spite o f three separate, long discourses on the nature o f the Grail , Perceval persistently ignores or misinterprets the significance o f his adventure. The one who has the most knowledge about the Grail kingdom is the widow. Concentrating her speech on the loss o f her husband and sons, the widow fails to even mention that Perceval still has living relatives. With more information about bis family's past, perhaps Perceval would have been more capable of responding to the mysteries o f the Grail Procession. To him at the time they are curiosities that bear no relation to him or his goals. In retrospect, any additional maternal instructions could have averted his silence at the Grail Castle. 3.3.2. SUence A s part of Perceval's training, Gornemant tells him not to talk too much (11. 1624-1632). Reinhard states that this type o f injunction is a taboo much more ancient than the dictates o f chivalry. "In [Le Conte du graal) it seems that the gets performs a function analogous to that in Irish literature. . . . Here the story is elaborated by means o f the restraint effected by the prohibition: If there were no injunction against talking, there would be no story." 4 3 This 4 2 These three explicative passages are discussed in section 3.4.4, below. 4 3 John Revell Reinhard, The Survival of Geis in Mediaeval Romance (Halle: M a x Niemeyer Verlag, 1933) 152-53. 147 Le Conte du graal prohibition on speech is also found in Erec et Enide, where the husband commands his wife to not say a word unless he addresses her first (11. 2768-2773). Enide, thinking o f his safety, breaks the injunction four times. 4 4 But the violation o f this taboo wil l exact a penalty, as Erec states to Enide (11. 3553-3570). In both tales, speech is presented as effective for avoiding danger. Speech in the real world is forbidden by Gornemant, but is desirable at the Grail Castle. The discourse o f the Hideous Damsel is prophetic in tone and implies that tragedy wil l result from Perceval's silence. The Grail mystery can only be solved by the intervention o f words. Thus the geis against speech produces a sense o f impending doom and increases the level o f tragedy associated with the Grail quest. Perceval keeps silent as the Grail repeatedly passes by him. He reacts incorrectly to a supernatural event since, when he should react, he pretends that nothing extraordinary has occurred. The fantastic mode is revealed in the juxtaposition of a supernatural event and an etrange interpretation. This situation leaves the land a "terre gaste" as before. The power o f his words would have healed all the lands. The narrative voice announces the disaster, but it is not until the next morning that we see the true effects o f Perceval's silence—the castle is depopulated. He acknowledges five years too late that he had participated in an extraordinary adventure of which he failed to take advantage. This can only bring him heartache because he didn't fAilfill his Christian duty which is the third part of knightly duties. Thus he wanders 4 4 Chretien de Troyes, Erec et Enide, ed. Mario Roques, C F M A N° 80 (Paris: Champion, 1952) 11. 2800-2801, 2983-3010, 3469ff., 3765-3769. 148 Le Conte du graal unrepentant and unconfined until meeting the hermit, who explains to him the significance o f the events he witnessed. Unt i l his meeting with the hermit, Perceval is only saddened that he did not have his curiosity satisfied. He has no awareness o f the effects o f his actions on others until the hermit enUghtens him. 3.3.3. The Fantastic Mode and Communication With the fantastic mode, what is not said (what is kept secret) is often more important than what is said. The lack o f narrative commentary during C p is curiously similar to the widow's negligence in educating her only living son. The same limitations that have influenced the perceptions o f meaning also reveal the expression of thought. Perceval does not hesitate to question the significance of the Grail Procession, he hesitates to verbalize his thoughts. In his ability to take signs and decode their meaning, he has progressed from the ignorant youth o f the Waste Forest, but has not developed so far as to judge properly when speech and silence are best applied. This silence is again mirrored in his trance-like state before the three drops o f blood on the snow. In that scene, he overestimates the significance of the sign with potentially dangerous consequences. Perceval is attacked by two knights o f the court who could have easily killed him. K e u and Sagremors both speak to Perceval before attacking. It is only their warnings that alert the silent Perceval. Perceval himself has still not learned the timely use o f words. A s readers, we know from the narrator what the consequences o f silence are. But do we know what the consequences of speech would have been? The Perceval portrayed in A p may 149 Le Conte du graal have been capable o f asking questions at the Grail Castle, but could he, at that level o f maturity, have understood the answers and used the knowledge effectively? Success in the narrative's central adventure, restoration o f the Grail kingdom, can be achieved only through acts of language, and Perceval's failure is precisely his reluctance to enter into dialogue with the Fisher King . The widow tells Perceval that he is o f noble lineage, yet fails to mention any of their relatives associated with the Grail kingdom—the Weeping Maiden, the Fisher King and the hermit—or even allude to the existence o f that kingdom. His mother gave him instruction o f the Arthurian world that he was about to enter along with some rudimentary details o f his religious duties. But Perceval misuses his new-found knowledge by abusing the lady in the tent. He could not properly interpret and use the instructions. Perhaps it is the very lack o f knowledge and ambiguity about the consequences o f communication that tantalized Chretien's contemporaries and subsequent continuators o f the Grail myth. The text does not offer any answers beyond the need to question. The continuous questioning o f the Grail mysteries reveals the fantastic as a mode within Le Conte du graal. 3.4. Fantastic Aspects and Structure in the Graal A s manifested in the examination of the structure of narrative sequences concerning Perceval in Le Conte du graal, there is a definite correlation between movements among worlds and the pursuit o f a desired object. There are three distinct realms or worlds involved in Perceval's adventures: Wales (feminine), Logres (masculine), and the Fisher King 's realm (indeterminate). A s Perceval moves between each o f these worlds conflicts are engendered or resolved, objects are desired and obtained, and messages are exchanged or secrecy is 150 Le Conte du graal maintained. The fantastic reveals itself on three different levels— structural, spatial, and verbal. 3.4.1. /Otherness/ When examining the five narrative units o f the Grail story, /otherness/ is found in several distinct yet intertwined aspects o f the narrative. /Otherness/ is secrecy and deception that hides the truth and creates mystery, as depicted in the semiotic model of /otherness/ in Chapter 3. The need to interpret that mystery in terms o f the Arthurian model often serves only to deepen the enigmatic aspects of Perceval's various adventures. /Otherness/ is always associated with those narrative units that involve the feminine world and its proponents. Units A p , C p and E p all contain indications o f /otherness/ from Perceval's point o f view. To Perceval alone the existence o f knights represents /otherness/ when they appear in the opening scenes o f the narrative. To the observer (medieval or modern) who has a pre-existing familiarity with the standards of Arthurian reality, the forest scene in A p is an absurd comedy. Based on his reactions and interpretations o f the event, Perceval incorrectly experiences the arrival o f the knights as a supernatural event. His reactions and description o f the knights contain indications o f /otherness/ in two o f his senses. Hearing and sight deceive Perceval and produce extreme reactions within the naive youth. The chattering youth who questions the five knights contrasts with the young knight who watches the Grai l pass by several times and remains silent. The bright light of "angels" in the forest (described as clers et luisanz), prefigures the blinding light that accompanies the Grail Procession. In the forest, the light is a 151 Le Conte du graal product o f the sun shining on armor. In the Grail Castle, the light does not seem to have any outside source. This first example o f mistaken /otherness/ augments the mysterious aspects o f the nightly procession at the Grail Castle. In a narrative characterized by ambiguity and mystery, the most important events, which are the ones associated with the Grail unit C p , remain the most mysterious. The Grail procession is the central event in the narrative. The Grail is not special because o f what it is, but because of what it contains. "Furthermore, the Grail is definitively associated with a second ordinary object with mysterious properties, a white lance from the tip of which fall drops o f blood. The Bleeding Lance too becomes the object o f quest and discourse." 4 5 These objects represent a wondrous means o f redemption, but for Perceval they are a puzzle whose function still lies hidden. Even for the informed reader, these objects embody the unknown, as the narrator refrains from any type of interpretive judgment that might explain their function. The narrator never claims to have knowledge of any aspect o f the entire experience. The only commentary is received from secondary characters who use direct discourse to confront Perceval about his sinful state. A s tokens o f /otherness/, the Grail, the lance (and to some degree the sword received from the Fisher King) act as focal points to which Perceval's and the reader's attention is drawn time and time again. 4 5 Pickens, "Introduction...", xviii . 152 Le Conte du graal There are several characters associated with the Grail that embody /otherness/. First, the Grail King who lies beyond the banquet hall is stricken with a strange illness for which there seems to be no cure. The Fisher King also bears a wound that never heals. The Grail Maiden, who leads the procession into the Grail King's chambers and functions as the bearer o f mystery, is also an enigma. Sigmund Eisner proposes that the maiden who bore the Grail and the Hideous Damsel who later berates Perceval are the same figure. 4 6 The history of Perceval's relatives is a litany o f loss, death and tragedy associated with the devastation o f lands. The Grail Maiden's potential association with the land, presented in Eisner's theory, serves to further strengthen the connection between the Grail nobility and a distant, yet mysteriously potent, past that was first alluded to by the widow. In contrast, the Arthurian narrative units contain no mystery or secrecy at all. Instead, they contain interpretive retellings o f the Grail Mysteries. 4 7 The attempt to solve the mystery through analysis indicates an attempt by the Arthurian realm to integrate the unknown into the accepted model o f reality. The need to resolve /otherness/ through interpretive retellings o f the history stems from an inability to accept supernatural objects as legitimate elements o f the Grail realm. For the most part, Perceval is the primary indication of /otherness/ in units B p and Dp. Perceval is the link that unites the two realms and reaffirms the history o f the Fisher King 4 6 Sigmund Eisner, A Tale of Wonder (Wexford, Ireland: J. English, 1957) 107-108. 4 7 See section 3.4.4 for a more in-depth discussion. 153 Le Conte du graal and his court. For, until the Hideous Damsel appears to berate Perceval for his silence, the Arthurian court seemingly has lost all knowledge o f and contact with the Fisher King. B y bringing this history to their attention, the presence o f Perceval at Carlion causes the other knights to pursue their own adventures. 3.4.2. Fantastic Space and the Grail Castle The fantastic is also present in Le Conte du graal in the descriptions associated with Perceval's journey through the forest surrounding the Grail Castle. Fantastic space, as discussed in Chapter 2, involves more than mere descriptive themes and motifs. In the case o f segment C p , there are three physical indicators o f fantastic space surrounding the Grail Castle: the sliririking of space within the forest, the river and the castle itself. 3.4.2.1. The Forest On his way to Wales, Perceval passes through a forest and comes to a river, both o f which mark transition points between Logres (Arthur's realm), the Grail Castle (the Fisher King 's realm), and the otherworld (where Perceval's mother may be found). 4 8 The Grail Castle is located somewhere between Logres and the otherworld. The forest surrounding the castle insulates it from the real world much more effectively than the forest in Wales was able to 4 8 "Both sister and brother are 'translators' who mediate between Perceval and the worlds o f immaterial reality (the kingdom of Utherpendragon, the Grail kingdom, the Kingdom o f God). The widow 'brings forward' the past and interprets chivalric ideals as well as essential Christian beliefs and practices." Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 88. 154 Le Conte du graal separate Perceval from the Arthurian world. Figure 3.3 sketches the relationship o f worlds revealed through Perceval's voyage to the Grail Castle: Forest (fantastic space) River (frontier) Figure 3.3—Model of Perceval's perspective while in Logres The distortion o f time and space is implied by the words o f the Fisher King and later by Perceval's cousin. This phenomenon reveals the fantastic nature o f the forest as a transitional area between worlds. The forest becomes a shifting, diffuse space between King Arthur's realm, the Fisher King's lands, and the otherworld. The changeable aspect o f the forest is emphasized twice by Chretien and forms a contextual frame within which the Grail episode must be judged. The Grail adventure is respectively opened and closed by the parallel commentary o f the Fisher King and Perceval's cousin. Each of them marvels at the freshness o f the horse, a paradoxical symbol supporting Perceval's statements. Each one also states that, as far as they know, there is no lodging or civilized habitation for many days' travel. 155 Le Conte du graal The disparity between physical signs and Perceval's words emphasizes the curious nature o f his travels. While the Fisher King and the maiden are astonished and can offer no explanation, Perceval is oblivious to the contradiction he represents. He, having moved through the fantastic space of the forest, has no known criteria by which to evaluate his current condition. Because Perceval has experienced the effects o f the shortened voyage, he has no reason to call into question their validity. The narrative itself offers no clear explanation as to why Perceval was able to travel long distances in a short time. This mystery adds to the fantastic nature of Perceval's Grail Castle adventures by introducing the inexplicable into the everyday act o f riding a horse. 3.4.2.2. The River While traveling, Perceval prayed that God would permit him to find his mother (11. 2956-2959) on the other side of the river. 4 9 One can surmise that crossing the river, in this case, implies either that Perceval wi l l be returning to Wales or that he wil l be entering the afterlife. Since Perceval's mother is already dead, the latter supposition is more logical. Perceval does not realize that, in asking about a way to cross the river, he is implicitly seeking a route into 4 9 Water carries man to the other shore where his destiny awaits. Water fascinates, drawing the observer to its edge, where the mystery o f what lies beyond and beneath captures the imagination. According to Bachelard, water is feminine by its very nature: "Quand nous aurons compris que toute combinaison des elements materiels est, pour l'inconscient, un mariage, nous pourrons rendre compte du caractere presque toujours feminin attribue a l'eau par l'imagination naive et par l'imagination poetique." Bachelard, La Poetique..., 20 (Emphasis in the original.) 156 Le Conte du graal the world o f the dead. Water prevents him from reaching the other side 5 0 and therefore perpetuates an ongoing disjunction between the young man and his mother. In this passage, the language o f Chretien evokes a sense that the river itself would resist the knight's attempts to pass over it. "L'eve roide et parfonde esgarde, Si ne s'ose metre dedanz," (11. 2954-55). Perceval can neither swim across the river, nor be ferried over it. Perceval meets a gentleman (whom he later knows as the Fisher King) at the river. He assures Perceval that there is no civilization for a great distance and directs the young knight to a nearby castle. The castle is nestled between the river and trees. A s noted in Chapter 3, while the forest represents an ^determinate space, a river frequently symbolizes a definitive boundary marking entrance into the otherworld. The river itself also presents substantive physical evidence for the fantastic. It constitutes a barrier that Perceval cannot conquer and keeps him back from entering the otherworld. Indeed the very water seems to oppose any attempts to civilize it through man-made means o f bridges, ferries, or fords. It is treacherous, resistant, and impassable. A s a physical barrier, the water also keeps the Fisher King and his court from entering into the otherworld. They are not dead, and yet they do not participate in Arthur's 5 0 Frederick Wi l l , in Belphagor: Six Essays in Imaginative Space, examines the metaphor o f water. Addressing Perceval's experience at the river near the Grail Castle, Wi l l writes, "Here language summons up an aquatic mood, holds it before us as something morally 'important' and suggestive, adequate to our entry and transcendence." Frederick Wi l l , Belphagor: Six Essays in Imaginative Space (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1977) 89. 157 Le Conte du graal realm. The whole court is apparently trapped between two worlds, awaiting a redeemer who wi l l free it from its mdeteiTninate state. 3.4.2.3. The Castle The insular effects o f the forest are evidently at work to conceal or reveal at wi l l the location o f the Grail Castle. Indeed, Perceval's own attempts to find the Grail Castle are initially frustrated in spite o f clear directions from the Fisher King. Perceval petulantly curses the King for misleading him, but then immediately espies the castle and changes his curse into a blessing. To find the castle, Perceval must find a cleft in a rock and then travel into a hidden valley. The castle seemingly resists disclosure to all but the invited, and even then requires effort and a patience that Perceval lacks. The next morning, when Perceval leaves, the castle drawbridge is raised without evidence o f human intervention. The building seemingly evicts him and then disappears back into the obscurity o f the forest. While at the Grail Castle, Perceval is no longer in the real world. But, while Perceval has left behind Arthur's realm, he is not allowed entrance into the otherworld. This scenario fits well with one o f the definitions o f the fantastic: the interference o f the otherworld causes a suspension or distortion of the laws o f nature as they are commonly experienced within the real wor ld . 5 1 In other words, there are different rules in effect in the otherworld that seem to 5 1 See section 2.2.1. 158 Le Conte du graal both the readers (as observers) and characters (as participants in the events), to be impossible, unusual, or inexplicable. Rules o f time and nature no longer apply, but instead are suspended, allowing Perceval to travel great distances in a single day. He has clearly not been participating in the real world, but rather in the world o f the Grail Castle. The Grail Castle exists on the edge o f the otherworld's borders and yet is not part o f the real world, existing in the fantastic space between two worlds. The Fisher King's court isolated itself from the real world twelve years prior. After Perceval leaves, the castle, court and king all disappear into the unknown and are not heard from again in this narrative. 3.4.3. Structures of Change I f we examine the overall structure o f Perceval's adventures, the following formula is derived: ( A p (B p ( C p ) D p) E p ) . The nested structure o f Perceval's narrative progress is clearly evident. During his adventures, Perceval is fully successful only in obtaining the social status o f knight. He does not truly gain a complete, satisfactory reunion with his mother. A t the center o f his adventures is the night spent in the Grail Castle. 5 2 He fails to achieve a successful resolution to the adventure o f the Grail Castle and the Fisher King. One can not be certain as to the potential resolution o f C p as that portion o f the narrative remains unwritten, and would 5 2 "The title of the poem, the organization o f Perceval['s] adventures brought to light by the hermitage episode, and the quality o f judgments and interpretations made from the perspective of the Grail community (which includes the mature inhabitants o f the Waste Forest), all suggest that the Grail axis is central in the poem's structure and that it casts the proper light for a correct evaluation o f characters, events, and objects." Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 80. 159 Le Conte du graal have been represented as F p . Segment C p is the most ^determinate portion o f the narrative program and reveals the open-ended nature o f the text. Figure 3.4 illustrates the narrative model for this unit: Figure 3.4—Structural model for Perceval's voyage to the Grail Castle A s illustrated in the above diagram, Perceval's reactions to the Grail Mystery create a complex narrative program, where the realization of the first goal o f knighthood subverts the second goal o f reunion with his mother. The two are apparently mutually exclusive: He cannot have both of them. It is as if the goal of finding his mother is commingled with the successful completion o f the Grail episode. Knighthood keeps him from both those goals. The structure o f C p follows the pattern set out in scenario 1, postulated in Figure 2.5. A s shown in Figure 3.4, once Perceval makes a choice (in this case, to remain silent), by definition he exits the fantastic mode. Deciding not to speak represents a choice for the masculine, mimetic mode. Perceval resolves the fantastic dilemma by rejecting the supernatural and choosing the real Forest (Grail Castle) River (Fisher King) 160 Le Conte du graal world and an etrange interpretation of the Grail episode. Deciding not to speak represents a choice for the masculine, mimetic mode. The act of choosing defines when Perceval exits the fantastic mode. The Grail episode is situated at a juncture in the story where a serious interpretation of the widow's advice to her son becomes possible (Table 3.5). The religious obligations o f a knight are germane to the ethical dimensions of chivalry. A vacuum exists in Perceval's adventures precisely because nothing happens at the Grail Castle that either advances or impedes Perceval's progress as defined in terms of Arthurian knighthood. A gradual falling away on the part o f Perceval from a superior form o f life results in his failure at the Grail Castle. Table 3.5—The nested structure of the Grail adventure A P Opening unit in the forest A P 1 Perceval meets the knights A P 2 Perceval talks with his mother A P 3 Perceval leaves Wales Bp Perceval's quest for knighthood BP1 Perceval insults the maiden BP2 Perceval finds King Arthur's court BP3 Perceval defeats the Red Knight Bp4 Perceval receives training BP5 Perceval saves Biaurepaire Ep Closing scene in the forest E P3 Perceval seeks the Grail E P2 Perceval talks with the hermit EP1 Perceval wanders unrepentant Dp Perceval rejoins Arthur's court D P5 The Hideous Damsel insults Perceval Dp4 Perceval joins King Arthur's court DP3 Perceval defeats Keu and Sagremor D P2 Perceval defeats the Proud Knight of the Heath Dpi Perceval meets his cousin (,. The (.rail Castle Cpl Perceval meets the Fisher King C P 2 Perceval stays at the GrairCastle C'P3 Perceval departs from the Grail Castle 161 Le Conte du graal The importance of Perceval's adventures in relation to the Grail can be expressed in terms of openness and ambiguity. A s the center point of narration, the Grail episode now defines who Perceval is. His name change from "Perceval" to "Perceval the Wretched" is indicative o f a change of state for the young knight. He is forever known as the knight who failed to ask the necessary questions. It is noteworthy that Perceval does not personally see the Grail as an object of desire until the very end o f his story, even though his disjunction from the Grail occurs halfway through the narrative. When the hermit reveals the mysteries o f the Grail procession to Perceval, he is then able to see the Grail as desirable. 3.4.4. Intratextual Analysis of the Grail Episode The Grail episode is analyzed at three different points in the narrative: when Perceval's cousin asks him about the Grail Castle (11. 3522 ffi); when the Hideous Damsel comes to Arthur's court (11. 4613 ff.); and when Perceval makes his confession to the hermit (11. 6338 ff.). Each time new information and a different perspective on the nature o f the Grail mystery are revealed. Perceval's cousin recounts the Fisher King's past and how he came to his current state. The Hideous Damsel discloses what the future holds for the castle's inhabitants and society at large. The hermit is the only one who links the past, present, and future for Perceval, and thus also structurally links segments A p , C p , and E p . In providing the global perspective, the hermit reveals that Perceval's sins in A p cause his failure in C p and result in his future course as mapped out in E p . It may prove instructive to look in detail at each o f these retellings to see what verbal clues they reveal about the fantastic aspects o f the Grail and those associated with it. 162 Le Conte du graal When Perceval encounters his cousin in the forest, he has barely left the Grail Castle. His cousin states that they are in a very isolated spot. Yet when Perceval reveals that he stayed in a nearby castle, she immediately recognizes the site as the Fisher King 's castle. She is able to ask Perceval all the right questions about his stay there. She discloses that the Fisher King is wounded in the thigh and has deliberately constructed a hidden mansion for himself in the midst o f his forests. The fact that he cannot ride a horse and has others hunt for him indicates that the wound is serious and painful. The thigh wound is a motif that is indicative of emasculation and loss of power. 5 3 Apparently the health of the king is also tied to that of his lands. The Fisher King 's impotence is not only physically disabling, but also renders him incapable o f fuffilling his social duty as ruler o f his lands. Perceval's cousin reveals why the Fisher K ing and his court removed themselves from the civilized world. She thus supplies an answer for the narrative lacunae surrounding how the castle came to be located on the edge o f the otherworld. The second person to discuss the Grail episode is a monstrous woman riding a mule. When the Hideous Damsel curses Perceval, she also calls him Perceval the Wretched. The words o f the Hideous Damsel imply that the Fisher King is lost to the real world forever. He can never be restored to his rightful position ("Del roi qui terre ne tandra," 11. 4642). Yet apparently the Grail Castle is still attainable from the real world, as the knights are inspired to 5 3 For other examples o f thigh wounds in French medieval narratives, see Guigemar (Marie de France), and Partenopeus de Blois. 163 Le Conte du graal go out and seek answers to the Grail mysteries. Thus the Grail Castle has not been forever relegated to the otherworld. But it is now more difficult than ever to find it. The Fisher King remains in a type o f limbo where health and prosperity are denied him due to a wound that cannot be healed. The hermit, more than any other actant, gives Perceval insight into the causes and meaning o f the events at the Grail Castle. Whereas his cousin and the Hideous Damsel instinctively know of his failure at the Grail Castle, the hermit hears the story in the form of a confession. The hermit can immediately interpret the meaning o f all the events after hearing that it is Perceval to whom he is talking. Whereas the other two were able to state the facts as a type of history telling, the hermit is able to go to a deeper level and reveal the profound nature o f the Grail mysteries. 5 4 The hermit reveals that the widow, the king served from the Grail and he are siblings, which in turn makes the Fisher King Perceval's cousin. For the first time in the story, the events surrounding the otherworld and the Grail Castle are given a Christian interpretation through the acknowledgment of sin, repentance, and penance. The unknown supernatural is transformed into a divine mystery. This transformation, however, does not 5 4 "Significantly, the Grail mysteries are disclosed as a function of judgments of Perceval from the point o f view o f the Grail kingdom. Equally as important is the fact that the judgments are rendered and the details revealed by 'initiates' who surround the Grail Castle, as it were, and mediate between it and Perceval." Pickens, The Welsh Knight..., 74. 164 Le Conte du graal negate the fantastic nature of the Grail Castle and its environment. The castle and its inhabitants are still suspended between two worlds, trapped in fantastic space. 3.5. Failure and the Fantastic Mode in the Graal The text proffers a two-fold explanation for Perceval's failure to ask the necessary questions at the Grail Castle. The narrator insists that his silence was due to the instructions o f Gornemant de Gohort. But two o f Perceval's close relatives attribute it to sin. Each proposed explanation is valid. The ambiguity drawn between the two reasons for silence emphasizes the fantastic by forcing the reader to choose between the real world and otherworldly explanations. Insofar as we can tell, Chretien does not mean to make that choice easy or obvious. 5 5 The fantastic mode in Le Conte du graal is an elusive state of change between reality and the supernatural. It often reveals itself through the textual use o f silence, hesitation, and ambiguity. The physical signs o f the fantastic mode become apparent to the attentive observer and invite a post-event examination o f the collision between the standards, expectations and ideologies o f the real world and the supernatural world. The fantastic mode always occurs in this narrative during a state o f becoming, where the hero is uncertain, seeking, and 5 5 "Very little comes easily to the reader of this complex narrative for reasons that appear to involve Chretien's intricate design at least as much as its lack of completion, not to mention the mysterious nature o f his central theme." Pickens, "Introduction...," xxiv. 165 Le Conte du graal questioning. It interrogates all the assumptions and rewrites the rules o f engagement. To engage the supernatural and participate in its rites, the hero must overcome his hesitation and dare to question. The fantastic mode in Le Conte du graal is manifested at three different levels in the text—structural, spatial and verbal. I f we examine the general, overall structure o f Le Conte du graal, there emerges a clear open-ended pattern used by Chretien in writing about the adventures o f Perceval while at the Grai l Castle, a pattern that correlates to the proposed scenario 1 o f Figure 2.5. Fantastic space is used to create a realm where the Fisher King and the Grail Castle are ensnared and awaiting release. A t a verbal level, the hesitation to speak, rather than a hesitation to act, is symptomatic o f and most closely reveals the fantastic mode in Perceval's adventures. Perceval's actions cause him to develop into a knight o f the Arthurian court rather than a member o f the Fisher King's court. Perceval fails to find the Grail Castle again, and therefore in the end his adventure constitutes an etrange adventure, insofar as Chretien was able to finish the narrative. In contrast, the general quest for the Grail constitutes an open-ended and therefore fantastic adventure that, for some, continues to this day. 166 4. Le Chevalier de la charrette O f all the romances o f Chretien de Troyes, his Chevalier de la charrette^ is undoubtedly the most paradoxical and ambiguous. The simple yet graphic account o f Lancelot's mission in the mysterious 'Land o f N o Return' goes to the heart of a problem which clearly fascinated and perplexed Chretien's audience—the conflicting claims o f feudal loyalty and courtly love. 2 Before Chretien de Troyes' tale of Lancelot and Guenievre, there is no known story o f a love affair between this knight and Arthur's wife. There are many stories, according to the Celtic tradition, o f knights who visit the otherworld or who have encounters with fees? Many involve the abduction o f the wife o f a king, the most famous being found in the Life of St. 1 Chretien de Troyes, Le Chevalier de la charrette, ed. Mario Roques, C F M A N° 86 (Paris: Champion, 1983). A l l subsequent quotations are taken from this edition, unless otherwise noted. 2 "In [Le Chevalier de la charrette] Chretien uses a twelfth century tradition o f the abduction and rescue of Guenevere, which still has a few hints o f a journey into the otherworld or the Land of the Dead, to illustrate a theme o f courtly love." Elspeth M . Kennedy, "The role o f the supernatural in the prose Lancelot," Studies in Medieval Literature and Languages in Memory of Frederick Whitehead, eds. W. Rothwell, W. R. J. Barron, David Blamires and Lewis Thorpe. (New York: Manchester University Press, 1973)174. 3 Cross and Nitze observe that Lancelot's hospitable hosts and perilous passages (the Water Bridge, Sword Bridge and falling portcullis) are in the tradition o f Celtic visits to the otherworld. T o m P. Cross and William Nitze, Lancelot and Guinevere: A study on the origins of courtly love (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 1930) 53-54. 167 Le Chevalier de la charrette Gildas by Caradoc o f Llancarfan written around 1130. 4 However, Lancelot does not figure in this earlier tale of Guenievre's abduction by Melwas. In this chapter, Le Chevalier de la charrette is examined from a structuralist point of view. The distinctions between the real world and the otherworld are brought to bear upon the examination o f narrative progression, digression, and the resolution o f disjunctions within the narrative program. The manner in which fantastic elements are used to augment mystery and ambiguity increases a sense of /otherness/ associated with Lancelot and his travels. The relationship o f desire between the protagonist Lancelot and the multiple objectives of his quest, especially the queen, is reflected in the movement o f Lancelot through fantastic space. The paradoxical aspects of Lancelot's story provide additional layers o f complexity to the conflict between worlds. Relevant to this inquiry is the question o f multiple subjects, which implies multiple points o f view. I also look at how the conflicting desires o f various characters affect the outcome o f narration.5 Desire characterizes the semiotic relationship between the hero and the object, 4 Caradoc o f Llancarfan, Vita Gildae auctore Caradoco Lancarbanensi. Gildas, ed. and trans. Hugh Williams, Cymmrodorion Record Series, N° 3, Parts I and II (London, 1899— 1901). See also the Monk of Ruys, Vita Gildae auctore monacho Ruiensi. Gildas, ed. and trans. Hugh Williams, Cymmrodorion Record Series, N° 3, Parts I and II (London, 1899— 1901). 5 Desire characterizes the semiotic relationship between the subject and the object being sought. For more details on the relationship between actants, see Appendix A . 168 Le Chevalier de la charrette providing a point o f comparison between Lancelot and Meleagant, who both desire the same objects. The resolution of the various disjunctions associated with the narrative program determines the degree of closure or openness for the Charrette's structure. The goal o f this approach is to formulate conclusions about the role o f fantastic events in the structuring of narration and resolution o f conflict within Le Chevalier de la charrette. 4.1. The Structure ofLe Chevalier de la charrette Le Chevalier de la charrette has been the subject of several studies concerning its conjointure and sens,6 the most notable having been contributed by F. Douglas Kel ly . 7 The plot of the Charrette has been compared to that o f a traditional lai as noted by David Hult . 8 6 "In Chretien there is usually a coherence at the courtly level, a sen, the logical exposition o f some idea o f love or chivalry, but an incoherence—I believe, often deliberate—at the supernatural level." Kennedy, art. cit., 173-174. 7 F. Douglas Kelly, Sens and Conjointure in the Chevalier de la charrette (The Hague: Mouton, 1966). See also J. Frappier, Chretien de Troyes, I'homme et I'oeuvre (Paris: Hatier-Boivin, 1957); Wilhelm Kellerman, Aufbaustil und Weltbild Chrestiens von Troyes im Percevalroman (Halle: MaxNeimeyer Verlag, 1937). "With respect to its plot, this 'romance' has been likened to another courtly genre, the lai, which usually limits itself to an isolated episode or to the fictional elaboration o f some emblematic object." David F . Hult, "Author/Narrator/Speaker: The Voice o f Authority in Chretien's Charrette," Discourses of Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, eds. Kevin Brownlee and Walter Stephens (Hanover and London: University Press o f N e w England, 1989) 76. 169 Le Chevalier de la charrette However, the structure o f the Charrette is far more complex in nature than that o f a shorter narrative, such as a lai or conte. Analyses o f the structure o f Lancelot's quest by Kelly and Norris J. Lacy 9 support a tripartite model, while Matilda T. Bruckner 1 0 supports a bipartite model. 1 1 4.1.1.1. Kelly's Structure for the Charrette Kelly 's assertion that the structure is tripartite is reflected in the way he segments the text: he frequently subdivides narrative units into groupings o f three episodes. According to Kelly, the Charrette is composed of three parts, surrounded by opening and closing scenes at Arthur's court. "... I have shown that the poem is built upon a symmetrical pattern, with the scene in which Lancelot and Guenevere confess and analyze their love as the core. This episode is found in the center of the central structural division (B) o f the plot which describes the events that took place in Bath. Embracing the central division are 9 Norris J. Lacy, The Craft of Chretien de Troyes: an Essay on Narrative Art (Leiden: Br i l l , 1980) 88-93. 1 0 Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, "Le Chevalier de la charrette (Lancelot)," The Romances of Chretien de Troyes: A Symposium, ed. Douglas Kelly (Lexington: French Forum Publishers, 1985) 132-181. 1 1 See also Z . P. Zaddy, Chretien Studies: Problems of Form and Meaning in Erec, Yvain, Cliges and the Charrette (Glasgow: University of Glasgow Press, 1973) 117-118. She specifically discusses bipartition and tripartition in her analysis o f Kelly 's divisions (154— 156) and prefers the bipartite model. 170 Le Chevalier de la charrette the two divisions describing Lancelot's quest (A) and Lancelot's imprisonment (C); they contribute to the symmetry of the plan by their respective positions directly before and after the central division as well as by the similarity o f their internal tripartite structure. The opening and closing Arthurian scenes complete the symmetrical arrangement while serving as nouement and denouement to the plot." 1 2 Kelly 's analysis o f the Charrette's structure shows subdivisions for each o f the major sections. Kelly sees the basic structure as I—>(A—>B—>C) —>II, where the central narrative is composed o f three parts (A—>B—>C), surrounded by a two-part framework taking place at Arthur's court (I, II). 4.1.1.2. Lacy's Structure for the Charrette Norris Lacy builds upon Kelly 's analysis 1 3 by focusing on the question of form, particularly o f the work's inner structure. He concentrates on the relationship between the narrative structure and the complementary motifs of hesitation and humiliation: "The question o f hesitation is as important as that o f humiliation. These two motifs, which perfectly relate the final expiation to the offense, are reflected in all parts of the work; hesitation in particular seems to be structurally significant." 1 4 1 2 Kelly, op. cit., 184. 1 3 Lacy, op. cit., 89. 14 ibid., 90. 171 Le Chevalier de la charrette Lacy cites, as an example o f hesitation, the episode where the lady offers Lancelot lodging i f he wil l sleep with her (11. 931-1280), seeing this event as a condensed version o f the central intrigue. Lancelot hesitates to defend the lady when he finds her being mistreated. According to Lacy, Lancelot's actions delay fulfillment of any duties and are analogous to his hesitation at the cart. With a single action, Lancelot loses his status as a loyal lover because o f his hesitation to sacrifice his reputation as a knight by entering the cart. The tournament at Noauz serves to reestablish Lancelot's reputation as both a lover and a knight, because he humiliates himself without hesitation. Lacy concludes that Chretien used the tool of humiliation to rebuild Lancelot's reputation as an exemplary lover. 4.1.1.3. Bruckner's Structure for the Charrette Matilda T. Bruckner examines the structure of the Charrette from a thematic point o f v iew. 1 5 She places the midpoint of the romance at the revelation of Lancelot's identity (1. 3660), "It is entirely fitting that we learn the hero's name precisely from the lady who has been the object of his quest and the object o f his constant thought." (143). Bruckner concentrates on the importance of seeing and talking. She sees the resolution of these two sensory-based themes in Lancelot's first big duel with Meleagant (138). Bruckner views the structure as open-ended (162 ff.) in regards to the relationship between the queen and Lancelot, but as closed when examining the conflict with Meleagant. Her assessment o f the structure of the Charrette is one of the most comprehensive, when dealing with the questions 1 5 Bruckner, art. cit, 132-181. 172 Le Chevalier de la charrette of san (the main idea) and antancion (artistic effort) 1 6 because she not only examines the structure but also relates her structural analysis to the more general question o f plot resolution on the level o f multiple narrative programs. Each of these critics relates the structure o f the Charrette to a particular theme in order to address the overriding question o f san and antancion. Lacy states, "Depending on the critic's point of view, different episodes wil l assume structural significance and permit us to construct different but equally valid formal analyses."1 7 Wilhelm Kellerman perceives one principal theme to the Charrette, namely the freeing o f the prisoners in Gorre . 1 8 However, Kellerman's statement assumes Arthur's point o f view rather than that of Lancelot. Zumthor maintains that the hero can become his own "sender," in Greimassian terms, by setting out on a voyage. 1 9 A s 16 ibid., 141. Referring to 11. 21-29, Bruckner poses the central question which occupies her discussion, "With these verses we reach one o f the most controversial problems in Charrette criticism: what exactly does Chretien mean when he attributes matiere and san to the Countess, sans, painne and antancion to Mrnself?" (135). 1 7 Lacy, op. cit., 88. 1 8 "I have shown that the Charrette consists of one principal theme—the freeing o f the prisoners in Gorre—and two subsidiary ones, each manifest in various parts o f the poem, and dealing, respectively, with Lancelot's and Guenevere's love and with his hatred for Meleagant." Kellerman, op. cit., 167. 1 9 "L'act ion principale, l'entreprise du heros, peut resulter d'une volonte qui lui est propre : i l devient, selon la terminologie de Greimas, son propre destinateur, comme l'Erec ou le Perceval de Chretien dans la premiere partie des romans qui leur sont consacres; i l peut par suite d'une associabilite inexpliquee, quitter de lui-meme son lieu initial, et s'engager, vers un ailleurs, dans un voyage qui constitue le recit." Paul Zumthor, Essai de poetique medievale (Paris: Seuil, 1972) 356. 173 Le Chevalier de la charrette the protagonist, Lancelot's primary reason for traveling to Gorre is the freeing o f the queen, in relation to which the freeing of the prisoners becomes secondary. This discussion o f the internal structural divisions of the five main sequences is based on Lancelot's point o f view and therefore, I believe, centers around the relationship of desire between Lancelot and Guenievre. As a parallel theme to his love for Guenievre, Lancelot's reputation as a knight within Arthurian society provides a strong counterpoint to his role as suitor. Love and reason are held forth as legitimate yet competing duties o f a knight in the Cart episode. Lancelot's identity 2 0 as both lover and knight are mirrored in these two coriflicting demands of love and reason. While the details of this conflict and its significance wi l l be discussed later, one can already appreciate how the debate focuses and directs the narrative action. 4.1.2. Segmenting the Narrative Like Ke l ly , 2 1 I divide the text into five narrative units. Such a division o f the content concentrates on Lancelot's point of view, whereas other critics, such as Kellerman, Bruckner and Zaddy focus on the overarching question of liberating the captives in Gorre. I represent the structure in Table 4.1 according to Greimassian notation: 2 0 "... we can say that Lancelot's name plus his actions equals one form o f identity: his reputation—that is, identity as evaluated by the other members o f an Arthurian society." Bruckner, art. cit., 145. 2 1 Kelly, op. cit., 169-170, 175, 178, 184, 201-202. 174 Le Chevalier de la charrette Table 4.1—General structure for the Charrette Narrative unit State Performative action A A The initial situation Disjunction^ —queen Initiates quest to Gorre S u O Q B, Lancelot's quest for Disjunction—queen Loses social reputation the queen S u O Q c L Lancelot in Gorre Conjunction—queen Frees the queen and prisoner Sn O Q Lancelot is im- Disjunction—queen Regains social reputation prisoned SU O Q E L Lancelot defeats Disjunction—queen Secures the queen's freedom Meleagant SU O Q There is a clear correlation between Lancelot's voyages to and from the otherworld and changes o f state for the hero. The first voyage results in a successful conjunction between Lancelot and Guenievre. The second voyage returns the narrative state to one of disjunction. There are two distinct realms or worlds involved in his adventures: Logres and Gorre. The five-part structure reveals the complexity o f detail within the Charrette. I wi l l concentrate on the relationship of this structure to the fantastic through a closer examination o f the episodes that comprise each narrative unit, concentrating on the way the fantastic mode is manifested and how it permeates the structure with meaning and significance—relating conjointure to san. 4.1.2.1. The Opening Arthurian Scene In most respects, the initial scene o f the Charrette is unremarkable, starting in a similar fashion to that o f Erec et Enide and Yvain, which both open at the court o f Arthur. However, unlike the other works by Chretien, there is no intermediate return to Arthur's court, from 175 Le Chevalier de la charrette which a second or more complex adventure is initiated. 2 2 Instead the transition point occurs at Bademagu's court in Gorre, when the prisoners are released to return to Logres. Due to the absence o f the hero (Lancelot), the first narrative unit, A A , is based on Arthur's point of view. 1. Meleagant's challenge 2. Keu's declaration 3. Keu's boon Similar to the Graal's initial Arthurian court scene, in the Charrette the court is paralyzed by the threats o f a foreign knight who challenges Arthur's authority. In the former narrative, the Red Knight has taken Arthur's cup, whereas here Meleagant takes the queen and defeats Keu. Meleagant is from the otherworld, representing the primary source of /otherness/ by virtue of his negative, threatening character and his association with the land of the dead. This first narrative unit introduces the main conflict in the plot—the otherworld threatens the real world by having seized the queen and untold numbers o f citizens from Arthur's realm. 4.1.2.2. Lancelot's Quest for the Queen The story shifts to Lancelot's perspective in the second narrative unit, B L . Gauvain encounters a knight whom he does not recognize, just as that knight is climbing into a cart. 2 2 Kellerman, op. cit., 11-13. 176 Le Chevalier de la charrette 1. Gauvain and the cart scene 2. The maiden 3. The two companions Beginning with the cart scene, Chretien has introduced a second level of mystery to the narrative program. A n unknown knight (Lancelot) arrives out o f nowhere and climbs into a cart, an act which in itself is a source of commentary and speculation by all who observe the knight's passage. The "Knight o f the Cart" proceeds towards Gorre and encounters many challenges along the way. His first night spent in the wondrous bed demonstrates his courage and prowess as a knight. The promises he makes to the maiden at the crossroads shows his chivalrous character towards women. Gauvain travels with the unknown knight and witnesses these traits as well as the demeanor o f the Knight o f the Cart. Gauvain is therefore assured that the unknown knight is seeking the queen's best interests and is worthy o f the quest. B y the time the two knights separate, Lancelot has established his intentions and his honor in the eyes o f both Gauvain and the maiden who accompanies Lancelot according to the "custom of Logres." Within the portion o f the journey where the maiden accompanies Lancelot, there are two additional adventures: the spring and cemetery scenes, which are discussed later. The events leading up to Lancelot's arrival in Gorre form a series o f adventures that have seemingly no commonality among them. The "droit chemin" 2 3 leads him 2 3 Throughout the Charrette, the narrator uses a variety o f formulations to reinforce the motif o f the "right path" to describe Lancelot's progress. See specifically 11. 613-15, 680-82, 726-727, 1345, 1359-60, 1363-83, 1507, 2142-58, 2467, 3003, 6109-10, 6148^19, 6246-51,6437-38. 177 Le Chevalier de la charrette towards Guenievre (who leaves her comb at the spring) and to face his own death (at the cemetery). Thus the voyage presents great gains as well as great personal risks to the knight. 4.1.2.3. Lancelot in Gorre The third narrative unit, C L , covers the events at Bademagu's court in Gorre. Here for the first time, Lancelot directly encounters Guenievre as well as Meleagant. The quest now shifts from a voyage to a more confrontational interchange between rivals. 1. Arrival o f Lancelot 2. First combat with Meleagant 3. Guenievre refuses Lancelot's service 4. Search for Gauvain and declaration o f love 5. Guenievre rewards Lancelot's service 6. Second combat with Meleagant 7. Departure o f Lancelot Unit C L comprises the entire period o f Lancelot's stay in Gorre. Lancelot and Guenievre acknowledge their love for each other in the central episode C L 4. While searching for Gauvain, Lancelot is taken captive and news o f his supposed death reaches Guenievre. Lancelot must face the possibility of Guenievre's death, as he too receives false news. This portion of C L is marked by loss and death. Gauvain is lost and is feared to have not survived the water bridge. The two main characters of the romance confront death in the form o f deception and faulty communication about their fate. The central unit o f the narrative contains 178 Le Chevalier de la charrette the apparent resolution of Lancelot's quest, namely the queen and prisoners are set free. But that freedom is not entirely guaranteed until Lancelot and Meleagant take up their combat again in the final narrative unit. 4.1.2.4. Lancelot's Imprisonment This narrative unit, D L , begins with Guenievre's return to Logres and follows Lancelot's exploits up to his final return to Arthur's court. The three principal events o f this unit focus on Lancelot's preeminence as a knight and a lover. During most of the unit, he is a prisoner (constrained by Meleagant's treachery) and yet in spite o f the circumstances Lancelot performs his duties to the highest level of diligence and service. 1. The tournament at Noauz 2. Meleagant's challenge 3. The liberation o f Lancelot The third unit for Lancelot is actually the fourth comprehensive narrative unit. Whereas unit B L was characterized by movement towards Gorre in the form o f a quest, unit D L is marked by imprisonment and a lack o f movement with the notable exception o f the tournament at Noauz. In general unit D, is uneventful and yet still manages to move the narrative program toward the conclusion while working to heighten narrative tension through a one-year delay o f the final battle. 179 Le Chevalier de la charrette 4.1.2.5. Closing A rthurian Scene In Erec et Enide and Yvain, the hero is able to return to Arthur's court because he had successfully completed his quest. In the Charrette, Lancelot must return to Arthur's court in order to complete his quest and ensure the continued safety of the queen. The final narrative unit, E L , where Lancelot returns to Arthur's court, is comprised o f three episodes as well. The search for Lancelot, his return to Arthur's court, and the subsequent defeat o f Meleagant make up the final narrative unit. 1. Gauvain's preparations 2. Lancelot's tale 3. Meleagant's defeat When Meleagant comes to Arthur's court to do battle, Lancelot cannot be found. The court and queen are left without a champion. The narrative thus returns to its original crisis, wherein Meleagant arrived at Arthur's court and demanded combat for the possession o f Guenievre. Gauvain begins preparing to fight on behalf of the queen and is replaced by Lancelot in an arrival scene that causes both surprise and joy for the court but consternation for Meleagant. Lancelot's final journey represents his return from the land of the dead back to the land o f the living. When he arrives, in place of the grieving there is great rejoicing in the court (11. 6785-6793, 6814-6819). The two knights meet in an open field at the foot o f a tower. There all the court gathers around to witness the encounter (11. 6971-6982), just as the spectators had gathered around the combatants when Lancelot first faced Meleagant in Gorre. 180 Le Chevalier de la charrette The tale ends with a complete victory for Lancelot and, therefore, Arthur's kingdom. The freedom of the queen is assured, as well as that o f the other prisoners who were liberated from Gorre. The final narrative sequence for Le Chevalier de la charrette is rather quickly brought to a conclusion. This sequence may be seen as E L 3 = S u O ^ p , where S= Lancelot and O ^ p represents the queen and prisoners. Thus the original threat to the stability and peace o f Arthur's court, embodied in Meleagant and his threats, has been removed by virtue o f Lancelot's victory, which re-establishes the state o f equilibrium and peace that was present at the start o f the tale. This episode resolves the initial conflict and disjunction which resulted from Keu's defeat. If we examine the same narrative units and consider the queen to be the object ( O q ) , an inverse pattern emerges for the relationship o f the subject to the object. Events in the first narrative unit initiate the quest for the queen by K e u and Gauvain . 2 4 For Lancelot B L consists of the journey to Gorre and his arrival at the court o f Bademagu (11. 224-3135). In this unit, Lancelot is separated from Guenievre: B L = S n 0 Q . The main focus o f the third narrative unit ( C L , 11. 3136-5358) is the physical union of Lancelot and Guenievre: C L = S u O q . The fourth unit is Lancelot's imprisonment (11. 5359-6725), where Lancelot and the queen are once more forced apart: D L = S n O q . Therefore, in semiotic terms, Lancelot experiences two changes o f state: he accomplishes his quest and yet ultimately loses the object he has been seeking. The 24 Kelly, op. cit., 168. 181 Le Chevalier de la charrette overall structure o f Lancelot's narrative progress (Table 4.2) can be seen as the resolution of the initial Arthurian conflict: loss o f the queen and other prisoners in Gorre. However, at the end of the narration, Lancelot has returned to his initial state of disjunction in relation to Guenievre. Table 4.2—Refined structure for the Charrette25 A Opening Arthurian scene (30-223) E Closing Arthurian scene (6726-7097) A A J Meleagant's challenge (30-81) E L 3 Meleagant's defeat (6914-7097) A A 2 Keu's declaration (82-129) E L 2 Lancelot's tale (6785-6913) A A 3 Keu's boon (130-223) E L1 Gauvain's preparations (6726-6784) II Lancelot's quest (224-3135) I) Lancelot's imprisonment (5359-6725) 13, I Gauvain and loid scene (224 910) D, 1 [ ilx-iatmn ol 1 ancelot (6188 672^) 1 13,2 I he maiden (9? 1 2011) D,2 Meleagant "s challenge (6147 6187) H , l I he two companions (2012 111^) [), I loumamenl al Noau/ <5150-<i|46) C La ncelot in G or re (3136-5358) C i I Arrival ol Lancelot (.1136 .1488) ' <_, 7 Departure ol I ante-lot (*044 51S8) ( 2 I II u n m k u with Meleagant ( ,6 Second combat with Meloauant llllW (. 11 GucnievreVcfiiseTFranc-eloVs hemce1'1'' r t ' : ~ ' • C , 5 Guenie\ie tewaids t ancelot s seivice L , 1 Search toi Gauvain (4081 4458) • ' ;1. .•.•.,|... v r y-f -i,.;..: f.y ,. • • --I ancelot and Guenievie confess their love A s Lancelot moves between and through these worlds, he experiences the loss and restoration o f his knightly reputation through a series of conflicts structured as episodes. In order to resolve those conflicts and reunite the king with his queen and people, the hero must strive to maintain a balance between duty and desire. 2 5 The shaded areas represent the fantastic. The darker gray area represents the mervettleux. 182 Le Chevalier de la charrette 4.2. Conflict and Paradox Paradox is a significant indicator of the fantastic mode within a narrative and reveals the various levels o f conflict within the Charrette.26 Lancelot represents a contradiction to established societal conventions in many respects. His actions do not fit with his apparent identity as a knight—his ride in the cart, his choice o f love over reason and his contradictory behavior at the tournament at Noauz all seem to create an image o f a flawed and incompetent individual. The paradoxes surrounding Lancelot are indicative of unresolved conflict within the narrative program and work against the resolution o f ambiguity and /otherness/ by prolonging fear, uncertainty and confusion. 4.2.1. The Cart Key to the understanding o f Lancelot's adventures on the way to Gorre is the image o f the cart. The cart is associated with fear and loathing because it is used to carry criminals to their place of execution. When Lancelot confronts the dwarf with the cart, he creates a reputation for himself that persists through most o f the narrative and which marks his identity. This episode (11. 314-429) introduces the first paradox associated with Lancelot. A s the hero of the story, Lancelot repeatedly chooses the path which brings him the least worldly renown and the greatest degree o f public shame. But Lancelot does not sacrifice his reputation easily: he 2 6 See section 1.4.2 for further details on the relationship between paradox and the fantastic. 183 Le Chevalier de la charrette debates with the dwarf about getting into the cart; his momentary hesitation elicits criticism from the narrator; and Guenievre rejects him for this brief, but telling moment o f hesitation. Lancelot's ride in the cart is problematic for the people who subsequently see him as he rides through the land. They can only surmise that he must be guilty o f some terrible crime. The people cannot resolve the conflicting image o f a strong, handsome knight and his means o f transportation—a cart which is a vehicle reserved for the lowest, meanest members of society. Tuit demandent : « A quel martire sera cist chevaliers randuz ? Iert i l escorchiez, ou panduz, noiez, ou ars an feu d'espines ? D i , nains, di, tu qui le traines, a quel forfet fu i l trovez ? Est i l de larrecin provez ? Est i l murtriers, ou champ cheiiz ? » (11. 410—417) The cart scene symbolizes Lancelot's social death and reinforces his lack o f a name by giving his a new designation by which he is identified. A s the title o f the work indicates, Lancelot is identified from that time on as the Knight of the Cart. The narrative commentary about the cart scene is limited to prolepsis, when the narrator states that Lancelot wi l l regret his momentary hesitation. There is no insight given as to the significance o f the actual ride in the cart and what it accomplishes for the hero in terms o f obtaining his goal. Therefore the cart scene increases the ambiguity surrounding Lancelot's 184 Le Chevalier de la charrette actions by presenting a problematic episode that is seemingly disconnected from the narrative program. The narrator gives the reader no clue or indication as to how to interpret Lancelot's experience in the cart or how to connect it to the narrative program. The deliberate use o f ambiguity through silence on the part o f the narrator provokes many questions and encodes openness into the narrative structure by refusing to offer the reader an easy answer. The cart paradox is not resolved until narrative unit D L , when Lancelot redeems himself through total unhesitating obedience to the queen. In the first narrative unit, Lancelot's reputation is intact: A L = S n O k . However, in his quest to rescue the queen, Lancelot sacrifices one of his chief social attributes: his reputation as a knight: B , = S u O k . This sacrifice occurred when he entered the cart. When he travels to Gorre and fights Meleagant for the first time, his reputation is still tarnished. In the fourth narrative unit, acting as the Red Knight, Lancelot's reputation is reestablished in the tournament o f Noauz: D L = S n O k . He can therefore return to Logres as a worthy knight and capable o f acting as the queen's defender because the shame o f the cart is expunged. 4.2.2. The Conflict Between Love and Reason /Otherness/ is structured around deception based on a contradictory relationship and paradox is the embodiment of/otherness/ through the realization o f those contradictory aspects within a character. I f a paradox is centered around incompatible pairs such as reality/ supernatural and reason/folly, then Lancelot's paradox most clearly establishes itself around 185 Le Chevalier de la charrette the debate between love and reason. 2 7 Lancelot represents the conflicts o f the Arthurian social hierarchy (reason) with the rules and demands of service to Queen Guenievre (love). 2 8 In semiotic terms, the paradox is illustrated in Figure 4.1: Love 4 > Reason IXI i • : contrary relationship : contradictory relationship ...^ : implied relationship Not Reason ^ ^ Not Love Figure 4.1—Semiotic model for the paradox between love and reason 2 7 The debate between love and reason is later developed by Jean de Meung in the 13 t h -century continuation o f the Roman de la Rose. Reason's speech (11. 4191-7200) is comprised of an exposition on the nature of the God o f Love, Justice, and Fortune. She argues that the Lover should accept her as his beloved and turn from his service to love. Felix Lecoy, ed., Le Roman de la rose par Guillaume de Lorris etJean de Meun. 3 vols., C F M A (Paris: Champion, 1966-75.) "Reson herself is apparently a rationalist, not a voluntarist; in her view, moral law follows from and is subordinate to reason. Reson's characterization o f herself as the source o f a virtue which she understands as a mean between extremes is central to the poem's dramatization o f the conflict o f love and reason." Donald W. Rowe, "Reson in Jean's Roman de la rose: Modes of characterization and dimensions o f meaning," Mediaevalia 10 (1984) 99. See also Colette Rimlinger-Leconte, "L'expression metaphorique chez Jean de Meung : Etude du discours de raison dans le Roman de la Rose" Etudes de langue et de litterature francaises offertes a Andre Lanly, ed. Claude Brixhe (Nancy: Publications - Universite de Nancy II, 1980) 301-312. 2 8 Gaston Paris, "Etudes sur les romans de la Table Ronde. Lancelot du Lac, I. Le Lanzelet d'Ulrich de Zatzikhoven; Lancelot du Lac, II. Le Conte de la charrette," Romania 10 (1881): 465-96; 12 (1883): 459-534. The Meaning of Courtly Love and In Pursuit of Perfection, ed. Joan M . Ferrante and George D . Economou (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975). Kelly, op. cit., 172-173. RuthHarwood Cline, "Introduction," to Chretien de Troyes, Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart, trans. R . H . Cline (Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1990) xxv-xxvi i . Bruckner, op. cit., 149-150. 186 Le Chevalier de la charrette The contrary relationship reflects the underlying paradox that marks Guenievre's connection with Lancelot. Moreover, the implied relationship of Reason/Not Love reveals the logic behind Guenievre's refusal to speak with Lancelot after the first battle in Gorre: because Lancelot hesitated, the inference is that he does not love Guenievre. From the spectators' point o f view (seeing Lancelot riding in the cart and (not) fighting in the tournament), the knight's actions are incomprehensible because the general public is unaware of the contrary and contradictory relationships which motivate Lancelot in his quest. From the reader's point of view, Lancelot's actions are to be interpreted according to the instructional commentary o f the narrator, who interprets the actions according to the dictates o f love which overrules reason. In the roles of sender and receiver, Arthur experiences success through the conflicting laws o f love and reason. 2 9 Is this not the conflict at the center o f chivalry as well? H o w can a knight maintain loyalty to his lord, and yet also maintain faithfulness to his lady (in the romance tradition, often the wife o f his lord). Thus the paradoxical nature of chivalry is illustrated in Le Chevalier de la charrette. A s a traditional hero, Lancelot manages to fulfill both the letter o f the law and its spirit, resolving the paradox o f his social reputation. The deeper paradox of chivalry embodied in the Arthurian world order is also addressed through the actions o f Lancelot, in that the king, queen and the knight are symbolic o f that world order by virtue o f the social positions they hold. 2 9 See 11. 360-377. 187 Le Chevalier de la charrette 4.2.3. Identity Another point of paradox revolves around the issue of identity. Throughout the second narrative unit, B , , the major question centers around the identity of the unknown knight. He is referred to as the Knight of the Cart, but never by name. Unlike Perceval, 3 0 who needs to discover his name, the Knight o f the Cart is fully aware that he is Lancelot. Referring to the Cemetery of the Future episode, Bruckner states, "For the first time the anonymous knight endorses the narrator's own strategy of concealment by refusing to give his name." 3 1 Later at the tournament of Noauz, Lancelot also hides his identity, threatening the herald i f he reveals the Red Knight's true name (11. 5550-55). A t the cart, Lancelot sacrifices his reputation by setting aside the logical aspects o f his personality. Gauvain is governed by reason, and therefore becomes a mirror for that portion of Lancelot's character. When Lancelot enters the cart, he cuts himself off from the reason o f the social code, devoting himself to the service of love. Gauvain's presence through the first part of the journey represents the chivalric rules o f Arthur's kingdom. Gauvain most clearly fulfills the role of helper on a number o f levels. He acts as a substitute for the protagonist. Gauvain accompanies Lancelot on his quest and also escorts Guenievre back to Arthur's court, thereby 3 0 Perceval needs to discover his name as a part of his maturation process and as a part o f being integrated into Arthur's court. For further details, see sections 3.2.2 and 3.2.3. 3 1 Bruckner, op. cit, 139. 188 Le Chevalier de la charrette returning the object o f the quest to the sender and receiver. 3 2 When Lancelot returns, Gauvain's narrative function as a double for the "reasoning" Lancelot disappears. The paradox o f Lancelot's identity is resolved in unit D L . While the herald immediately recognizes the Red Knight, the queen confirms his identity only after testing him. She effectively reveals Lancelot's identity to the reader by concealing it from the spectators at the tournament. Her request that Lancelot do his worst—au noauz—affiliates the Red Knight with the Knight o f the Cart, where shame and disgrace were topics o f public commentary. The content o f both scenes is inverse to public expectations, but is consistent with the duties of a lover. The play on words and deeds generated by Lancelot's paradoxical conduct is commented upon and augmented by the reaction of the crowd, as had also occurred during his ride in the cart. The question of identity and recognition goes to the heart o f Lancelot's relationship with the queen. Paradoxes evoke /otherness/ within an intrigue by posing more questions than there are answers to be found. The openness o f a narrative structure is increased through the use of paradoxical scenarios that cause a character, in this case the hero, to be seen as bringing chaos rather than order to the narrative program. Often the chaos is indicative o f an alternate order. For Lancelot the alternate order is defined by the rule of love which is seen as chaotic when compared with the more chivalrous rule o f reason associated with knights. 3 2 For an explanation of the actantial roles, see Appendix A . 189 Le Chevalier de la charrette 4.3. Fantastic Aspects in Le Chevalier de la charrette Within the Charrette, there are many details and scenarios that are evocative of the fantastic. The thematic use of /otherness/, fantastic space, hesitation and structural openness combine to form an impression of disjointed adventures that bear no resemblance to each other. The fantastic lends a sense o f irregularity and chance to Lancelot's adventures. The fantastic mode does not serve to enlighten the reader, but rather to confuse and mislead. While Lancelot's "droit chemin' ' 3 3 may appear to lead him quickly to Gorre, the numerous fantastic aspects o f his quest create a much more chaotic impression. 4.3.1. /Otherness/ One of the ways /otherness/ is revealed is through the use o f paradoxical situations, as was discussed above. /Otherness/ is also manifested through the characteristics and nature o f actants within the narrative. Central to the discussion of /otherness/ is the concept o f "alterity," 3 4 that quality o f an actant's personality which indicates that they come from somewhere else and some other time. 3 5 One of the functions o f alterity is to bring color to the narrative by the inclusion o f marvels and extreme