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Author: Caitlin Flynn

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.

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Frame, form, and narratorial persona
Caitlin Flynn

From the proliferation of temporal and affective potentialities in Douglas’s dream vision poem, discussion here shifts to William Dunbar’s The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo ( c . 1507). Whereas Douglas’s text is deeply solipsistic and achieves its narrative grotesque within the psyche(s) of a single persona, Dunbar’s work creates antinomy – and ultimately the narrative grotesque – via its complex interplay of speakers and poetic form. These multiple ‘voices’ offer to the audience a

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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The narrative grotesque
Caitlin Flynn

philosophical and aesthetic concerns in literary narratives. This study considers two Older Scots poems that exemplify the narrative grotesque, namely 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). 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

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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The first wife’s response
Caitlin Flynn

Rhodes, Elizabethan Grotesque , p. 26. 3 Bawcutt (ed.), William Dunbar , Volume 2, p. 287; the note to lines 60–3 calls attention to the similarity of the passage with Lydgate’s The Floure of Curtesy (c.1401): ‘[…] “Alas, what may this be, / That every foule hath his lyberté / Frely to chose, after his desyre, / Everyche his make thus, fro yere to yere?’ (53–6). Line references from John Lydgate, The Floure of Curtesye , in The Chaucerian Apocrypha

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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The widow as venerean preacher
Caitlin Flynn

their quasi-omniscient role, achieves a sense of cathartic release from the confused manipulations of the text. Notes 1 For associations with the latter see Calin, The Lily and the Thistle , pp. 109–11. 2 Ross, William Dunbar , pp. 227–32. 3 The Pardoner’s Tale , for instance, does not cross into this grotesque sphere because he still purports to preach Christian teachings. The disconnect

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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The supernatural and the textual
Janet Hadley Williams

MF, poems by Sir Richard Maitland (1496–1586), with a couple by his son, John (James VI’s chancellor), and the many by William Dunbar form the greater part of the compilation, as far as can be established from the manuscript’s disarranged state. 43 The emphases are thus on family piety, personal behaviour and aspects of court life. The two elrich fantasies included in MF, Lichtoun’s ‘Quha doutis?’ and Roule’s ‘Devyne poware’, have been placed in a group of diverse works, including those by Dunbar, Lydgate, Douglas, Henryson, Stewart and the anonymous Christis

in The supernatural in early modern Scotland
Grotesquing the dream vision
Caitlin Flynn

treatment by Macrobius and Calcidius, is magnified in Douglas’s interpretation of the form. Despite the almost rote nature of literary dream visions by the opening of the sixteenth century, Douglas affects an innovative take on the form by incorporating humanist perspectives into the popular medieval mode. Despite their waning popularity across the rest of Europe, dream visions were a popular mode in Scotland in the fifteenth century. Two pre-eminent Scottish makars, William Dunbar and Robert Henryson, engage the genre

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
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Caitlin Flynn

moments which reveal the intersection of ideas, affect, and form. In Gavin Douglas’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

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
Caitlin Flynn

). 10 See J. Radden (ed.), The Nature of Melancholy from Aristotle to Kristeva (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) . 11 Line references from The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane , ed. Ralph Hanna (Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society, 2008) . 12 Italics original. 13 Bawcutt (ed.), William Dunbar , Volume 2, p. 290; note to line 206: ‘St Valentine is first recorded as the patron of lovers and mating

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
Alec Ryrie

other words, the Scottish Church’s finances were shot through with practices which violated the spirit and, in some cases, the letter of the law. More important, perhaps, was the widespread perception that this was so. It was a truism that whenever a major benefice fell vacant, ‘the great men of the realm will have it for temporal reward’.15 The poet William Dunbar asked, in a satire on the seizure of valuable benefices by the powerful: Whether it is merit more To give him drink that thirsts sore Or fill a full man till he burst And let his fellow die for thirst.16 Such

in The origins of the Scottish Reformation