This book introduces a new critical framework for reading medieval texts. The narrative grotesque decentres critical discourse by turning focus to points at which literary texts distort and rupture conventional narratological and poetic boundaries. These boundary-warping grotesques are crystallised at moments affective horror and humour. Two seminal Older Scots works are used to exemplify the multivalent applications of the narrative grotesque: Gavin Douglas’s The Palyce of Honour (c. 1501) and William Dunbar’s The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo (c. 1507). These texts create manifold textual hybridisations, transfigurations, and ruptures in order to interrogate modes of discourse, narratological subjectivities, and medieval genre conventions. Within the liminal space opened up by these textual (de)constructions, it is possible to reconceptualise the ways in which poets engaged with concepts of authenticity, veracity, subjectivity, and eloquence in literary writing during the late medieval period.
philosophical and aesthetic concerns in literary narratives.
This study considers two Older Scots poems that exemplify the narrative
grotesque, namely GavinDouglas’s The Palyce of Honour
( c . 1501) and William Dunbar’s The Tretis of the Tua
Mariit Wemen and the Wedo ( c . 1507). Narrowing focus to these two texts
allows for a forensic examination of the multivalent forms and outcomes of the narrative
grotesque. When it is applied as a framework for reading medieval texts the narrative
grotesque will be shown to be an
the discovery of two salamanders at the bottom of the
cup!’ 2 Connelly’s remarks
highlight the striking relationship between creator, creation, and audience in the grotesque
object. The grotesque fluidity and improvisation of the object is possible only by means of
the extreme ingenuity and control of its creator. And, even when the insistent viewer
crushes the unruly form into conventional categorisation, it resists belligerently. GavinDouglas’s The Palyce of Honour ( c . 1501) achieves
Borghesi, Michael Papio, and Massimo Riva
(eBook: Cambridge University Press, 2003) , p. 135.
Bawcutt, GavinDouglas , esp. pp.
Parkinson (ed.), Palyce , note to line 1. Ficino describes
dawn as the ideal time for productive contemplation and scholarly pursuit (Kaske and Clark
(trans. and eds), Three Books on Life , I.VII, esp.
[500–1] pp. 125–9).
See Ficino on environmental factors conducive to
In the final chapter on The Palyce of Honour the narrative strands are brought together by examining the ways in which Gavin Douglas weaves together pagan allegory with Christianity. The poem is demonstrated to create multiple intersecting hierarchies that highlight Douglas’s humanist-complected understanding of poetics as a mode of divine illumination. The figure of Venus in medieval cosmology and astrology is especially important to this phase of the discussion. Meanwhile, the motifs of are developed from their introduction in the previous chapter. Lastly, Douglas the poet is integrated as contributing yet another subjectivity through his dedication to James IV of Scotland which brings the Scottish king into the hierarchies discovered by the dreamer-narrator.
-orthodox religious beliefs. In Sir Colling the Knycht , it is the ‘alreche svord’ (134, 187), won in battle from the ‘alreche knycht’ (96, 102), 11 that equips the ‘kirsin [Christian]’ (10) Sir Colin to defeat the dark power of a three-headed giant (152–5). 12 In the prologue to Book VI of his translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (1513), GavinDouglas imagines a detractor who sees Virgil simply as pagan, his work ‘ful of leys and ald ydolatryis’, of ‘gaistis and elrich fantasyis’; who condemns those paying heed to ‘browneis’ and ‘bogillis’ as ‘mangit [misguided]’, influenced by
moments which reveal the intersection of ideas, affect, and form.
In GavinDouglas’s The Palyce of Honour and William
Dunbar’s The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo
new correspondences were discovered by means of the narrative grotesque: they share a
concern with poetic making that is expressed in weird and wonderful new shapes and
patterns; their self-conscious interrogations of medieval forms and perspectives create an
unlikely blend of genres, voices, and structures that, in turn, materialise into
This book is the first ever concordance to the rhymes of Spenser’s epic. It gives the reader unparalleled access to the formal nuts and bolts of this massive poem: the rhymes which he used to structure its intricate stanzas. As well as the main concordance to the rhymes, the volume features a wealth of ancillary materials, which will be of value to both professional Spenserians and students, including distribution lists and an alphabetical listing of all the words in The Faerie Queene. The volume breaks new ground by including two studies by Richard Danson Brown and J. B. Lethbridge, so that the reader is given provocative analyses alongside the raw data about Spenser as a rhymer. Brown considers the reception of rhyme, theoretical models and how Spenser’s rhymes may be reading for meaning. Lethbridge in contrast discusses the formulaic and rhetorical character of the rhymes.
The Shepheardes Calender, The House of Fame and ‘La
Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1975 ), 230–97 is especially insightful on the
relationship between Chaucer and Spenser.
Helen Cooper notes that there
are several poets in play here. Spenser borrowed these lines from The
House of Fame , and ‘Lydgate developed the musical idea further in
his lines on the daisy’, Pastoral: Medieval
into Renaissance (Ipswich: Brewer, 1977 ), 56. Space prohibits consideration of Cooper’s third poet:
GavinDouglas, whose ‘silly scheip and thar litil
and saul’. 13 Some poets described heaven in
courtly terms, as a ‘palice of licht’, a ‘Court
Celestial’, complete with princes in armour of burnished gold
inset with precious stones. 14
Though GavinDouglas insisted that only virtue mattered to those in
heaven, not the pomp and might of earthly estate, this chivalrous vision
was likely appealing to aristocrats if not to burgesses or the urban