, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 377–389

From Aural Reception to Visual Paratext: The Reader in the Manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes’s Romances


DOI: 10.1007/s11061-009-9171-y

Cite this article as:
Reis, L.C. Neophilologus (2010) 94: 377. doi:10.1007/s11061-009-9171-y


Like the romance reader in Le Chevalier au Lion (Roques 1960/1982, ll. 5358–5368), the reader of Chrétien de Troyes’s romances lives on in the manuscripts. Bridging the gap that estranges us from the irrecoverable medieval audience member, the manuscript remains the most reliable witness to the reception of Chrétien’s works. Departing from the premise that circumstantial and material features of manuscript transmission of medieval literature conditioned the reader’s mode of reception, this examination of major author-based thirteenth-century romance collections of Chrétien’s romances suggests that the transition from aural to ocular reading moved alongside subtle yet significant changes in manuscript transmission. Following the chronology of the production of these collections, this essay focuses particularly on codicological features (such as, content, format, text, and page layout) and paratextual elements (such as, bookmarks, incipits, titles, rubrics, running headlines, and marginalia found on the manuscripts) to evince the figure of the reader that the manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes contextualized.


Chrétien de TroyesMedieval French literatureMedieval romanceMedieval readerMedieval oral performanceAural receptionOcular receptionParatextuality

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foreign LanguagesOne Otterbein CollegeWestervilleUSA