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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: May 2006

11 - Marie de France

from Part III - Medieval women
Summary

In the 1160s, an author who identifies herself as 'Marie' dedicated a collection of Breton stories or lais to a 'noble reis', most likely Henry II Plantagenet. Some time later, a 'Marie' who announces that she is 'de France' penned the Fables, which she says she translates from King Alfred's English translation of Aesopic tales; these she dedicated to 'le cunte Willame'. Finally, the Espurgatoire seint Patriz, an account of an Irish knight's voyage to the underworld, was translated from a religious text of monastic origin into the vernacular for the benefit of a lay audience by one 'Marie', probably around 1190. During the course of her career, 'Marie de France' thus produced works in three different genres - Breton tale, animal fable, spiritual voyage - each of which blends literary traditions and linguistic registers and whose topics progress from a tapestry of marvellous love stories, to a shrewd observation of animal and human social behaviour, and finally, to a vision of sin and redemption.

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The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing
  • Online ISBN: 9780511999123
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL052179188X
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