Hideus a desmesure: Monsters and monstrous knights in early French romance

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Abstract

From Beowulf to Marco Polo, monsters figure prominently across the medieval landscape. This essay looks at three medieval French romances whose representations of monstrosity allow the reader to interrogate the role of the monster as that which the knight must overcome. Exploring the complex relationship between knighthood and monstrosity, this essay argues that monsters can represent an integral part of what makes a knight a knight. Beginning with two more well-known characters from Chrétien de Troyes, this essay moves on to examine the monsters in the proto-romance, Le Roman de Thèbes. Monsters abound in Thèbes, and the most insidious monsters may be the heroes themselves. The text's monstrous rhetoric illuminates the paradox of Oedipus's sons - they are both valiant knights, in the mode of later courtly heroes, and monsters. Ultimately, this study interrogates the role of monstrosity in the developing genre of romance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-70
Number of pages26
JournalComitatus
Volume35
DOIs
StatePublished - 2004

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