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July 11 , 2007

The French Tradition and the Literature of Medieval England


The French presence in English literary history in the centuries following the Conquest has to some extent been glossed over or treated as an interlude. During this period, roughly 1100 - 1420, French, like Latin, was the language of the educated; in the courts of England, and for nobles, clerics, and the rising commercial elements, communication was multilingual.

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In his ground-breaking study, William Calin explores indepth this era of medieval English literature and culture in relation to its distinctly French influences and contemporaries. He examines the Anglo-Norman contribution to medieval literature, concentrating on romance and hagiography; the great continental French texts, such as Prose Lancelot and the Romance of the Rose, which had a dominant role in shaping literature in English; and the English response to the French cultural world - the two 'modes' in English where the French presence was most significant: court poetry (Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve) and Middle English romance.

This book is grounded in French sources both well-known and relatively obscure. Translations of the Old French make The French Tradition and the Literature of Medieval England accessible to scholars and students of Medieval English, comparatists, and historians, as well as those proficient in French. Calin develops a synthesis of medieval French and English literature that will be especially useful for classroom study.

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