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Good Dragons are Rare

An Inquiry into Literary Dragons East and West

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Edited By Fanfan Chen and Thomas Honegger

Dragons are a universal phenomenon and have fascinated humans since the dawn of time. Yet whereas we have numerous studies into the origins of these fantastic creatures, there have been very few attempts at discussing their appearance, function and development within literary texts. The eighteen essays collected in this volume (8 in French, 6 in German and 4 in English) – written by an international cast of scholars – try to fill this gap by looking at dragons in literature East and West, contemporary and past.

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Le Fier Baiser: ou comment apprivoiser un dragon (femelle) 77

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Le Fier Baiser, ou comment apprivoiser un dragon (femelle) Anne Berthelot Résumé Ferocious dragons are supposed to be the natural enemy of medieval knights. However, the martial ‘dragon-meets-knight’ scenario is not the most represented: instead, a number of romances in various languages depict the case of a female dragon whose only ambition is to get kissed by an especially valiant knight in order to be returned to her original shape – that of a most fair damsel. Such a recurrent motive exemplifies the ambiguity of the representation of femininity in medieval literature: the old connection between woman and serpent is still at work in these texts that betray a deep fear and loathing of feminine seduction, hidden behind the traditional game of prowess and desire. Dans l’imagerie populaire, le dragon est irrésistiblement associé au Moyen Age, et en règle générale de manière négative : la représentation canonique fait état d’un chevalier en armure étincelante combattant un monstre couvert d’écailles crachant du feu. Pourtant, dès qu’on se penche d’un peu près sur la littérature médiévale (par opposition, pourrais-je dire, à la littérature moyenâgeuse qui (re)fleurit à partir du XIX e siècle), on s’aperçoit que le nombre des dragons y est sévèrement limité, qu’ils ne correspondent pas nécessairement à l’image que l’on s’en fait traditionnellement, et que leur fonction est également différente de celle qu’on leur attribue le plus souvent a priori. En d’autres...

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