Session 1202: Medieval Narratives in the Modern World
Wednesday 11 July 2007, 14.15-15.45
|Moderator/Chair:||David Matthews, Department of English & American Studies, University of Manchester|
|Paper 1202-a||Editing for God and Country: Middle English Romance from Thomas Warton to Julius Zupitza|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
|Paper 1202-b||The Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkingar: A Myth and its Two Contradicting Ideological Interpretations in National Socialist Germany|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Political Thought
|Paper 1202-c||Medieval Children in Australian Fiction|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper a: We examine a selection of the earliest modern editions of Middle English romances by antiquarians such as Ritson, Utterson, and W. Carew Hazlitt, to discuss the high stakes attached to the modern transmission of medieval texts and the ways those stakes both encouraged and interfered with editorial treatment of medieval works. In both their editorial methodology and their paratextual commentaries, we find evidence of these antiquarians’ persistent anxieties about editorial accuracy, and we relate such anxiety to the religious and nationalistic nature of the editorial work being undertaken: The recovery of poems that render Catholicism attractive in a predominantly Anglican milieu and that only ambiguously confirm a teleological view of England’s progress away from its uncivilized past. The editors frequently refer to their desire for editorial accuracy, but editing medieval texts too accurately posed the risk of undercutting the Protestant faith and the comfortable chestnut of the Middle Ages as barbarous. The antiquarians’ anxieties are brought into relief by comparing their editions of medieval romances to those of German philologists such as Kölbing and Zupitza. Removed from the demands of English nationalism and apparently (and perhaps surprisingly) less concerned about competing faiths, the German editions evince far less editorial anxiety.
Paper b: The Jomsvikings, a warrior league with its own stronghold, rules, and laws, appear in saga literature both in a dedicated saga and as reference, when someone is said to have had a career with them. They perish when clinging to absurd oaths given when heavily intoxicated. The Nazis embraced the concept of a league of fighting men and enhanced their blind obedience and fatalism which merged in the structure of the SS. They found themselves offended by a contemporary interpretation calling such adoptions barbaric and outdated. My papers contrasts the medieval reception with the ‘militant’ versus the ‘pacifistic’ Nazi reading.
Paper c: The metaphor of childhood has been used to describe both the Middle Ages and the Antipodes as pre-modern states. Characteristics of this metaphorical childhood include irrationality and spirituality. In this paper I will discuss these concepts in the context of Randolph Stow’s Girl Green As Elderflower (1980), which combines the Middle Ages with the strangeness of the Antipodes. Through the figures of the green children, based on a 12th-century legend, the novel questions both the meaning of modernity and the possibility of belonging.