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Literary «objets d'art»

«Ekphrasis» in Medieval French Romance 1150-1210


Linda Clemente

The genesis of this book was the coincidence of two readings: Virgil's Aeneid and Dante's Purgatorio. Each work includes descriptions of art objects, Daedalus' and God's artwork respectively. These descriptions, or ekphraseis, also occur frequently in Old French romances. Too long considered as embellishment or artistic virtuosity, they have received little rigorous critical attention. This book offers a step in that direction by analyzing the narrative significance of art objects in three very different works: the anonymous Eneas, Chrétien de Troyes' Erec et Enide, and Jean Renart's Escoufle. Along with intertextuality and mise en abyme, ekphrasis opens new avenues for interpreting this literature.