I regret only that the scope of the volume by cgg10267


									nancy vine durling, ed., Jean Renart and the Art of Romance. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1997. Pp. 240. isbn: 0-
8130-1495-6. $49.95.
Nancy Vine Durling has assembled seven substantial essays on the work of Jean Renart, who, like Gautier d’Arras and others,
has been largely and undeservedly lost in the glare of Chrétien de Troyes’s greater glory. This collection is thus a welcome redress
of that traditionl injustice; it is all the more welcome because the contributions are of uniformly high quality.
    I regret only that the scope of the volume was not expanded to deal fully with both of Jean Renart’s romances. It is natural
that Guillaume de Dole should receive the lion’s share of attention: not only is it a better romance than L’Escoufle, but it
preserves partial texts of nearly fifty lyrics. L’Escoufle receives four pages in the first essay, somewhat more attention in the
second one, and no mention thereafter. Since the announced subject is Jean’s art of romance, the addition of an essay or two
devoted to L’Escoufle would have provided a far better balance. (It could similarly be useful to have some discussion even of
Jean’s Lai de l’ombre; although it is not a romance, it could provide further insight into Jean’s narrative art.)
    The volume opens with a section entitled ‘Text and Context’ containing two essays: Nancy A. Jones’s ‘The Uses of Embroidery
in the Romances of Jean Renart: Gender, History, Textuality’ and John W. Baldwin’s ‘“Once there was an emperor...”:A Political
Reading of the Romances of Jean Renart.’ The former is a rich discussion of embroidery as a social and economic phenomenon,
as a ‘complex thematic element’ (p. 39) in Jean’s work, and as a metaphor for the design of that work and especially for the
arrangement of inserted lyrics. Baldwin authoritatively situates Jean’s romances ‘within the context of the crisis over success ion
that profoundly disturbed the German Empire from 1197 to 1218’ (p. 46).
    The central section, ‘The Language of Lyric and the Language of Romance,’ comprises four essays on Guillaume de Dole.
Three deal with the lyric insertions. Maureen Barry McCann Boulton offers a fine study that addresses the genre of the inserted
poems, observing that ‘each lyric genre embodies a different ideology of love’ (p. 100). Michel Zink emphasizes the insertion o f
lyrics as a means of textual enrichment and textual complication. Regina Psaki points out that the dissolution of generic
borders offers Jean ‘a strategy for enhancing the representational capacity of language’ (p. 131). The last essay in this secti on is
Patricia Terry’s discussion of the problems of translating the romance. Although we may not agree with Terry that the romance
offers a ‘simplistic story’ (p. 143), her description of the problems of translating (e.g., the difficulty of rendering resonances and
echoes) is perceptive and informative.
    These essays are consistently strong and thoughtful, and some, particularly those of Boulton and Psaki, stand out as unusually
elegant and incisive studies. This is an important and welcome collection devoted to a romancer who fully merits such attention.
But I would still like to read about Escoufle.
                                                                                                               norris j. lacy
                                                                                                 Washington University in St. Louis

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