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Revealing otherness : a comparative examination of French and English medieval hagiographical romance



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Cadilhac-Rouchon, Muriel 


This dissertation is an analysis of three hagiographical romances written in France around the thirteenth century and later adapted into English. The texts are Ami et Amile, Robert le Diable and Florence de Rome and their English counterparts Amis and Amiloun, Sir Gowther and Le bone Florence of Rome. All six texts have been understudied, with the possible exception of Ami et Amile. They are linked in many ways, some thematic, some generic. They have all caused confusion and arguments as to what their genre is (Epic? Saint’s life? Romance? A combination of two or three genres?) and feature the defining notions of otherness, exile and penance. In spite of appearances, this work shows that the French and English authors prove to have quite different takes on the same stories. Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory, the chapters discuss the presence of otherness in the texts, in all its manifestations and offer new readings of the poems as well as possible solutions to the difficult question of genre in the middle ages. The many shapes taken by the other/Other (physical and emotional otherness; hybridity and gender) are exposed and utilised to uncover the meanings and ideological complexities of these multidimensional poems. This approach also reveals that the English texts propose a more conservative reading of common material than did their French originals. It is therefore suggested that the generic tendencies of these medieval texts be correlated with the importance of the Other in the respective redactions of the tales. Reading without consideration of these two factors produces a lopsided comparative view, while reading with both in mind leads to a better appreciation of rewriting and adaptation in the Middle Ages.






Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge