A medieval book-burning: Objet d'art as narrative device in the Lai of Guigemar
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A fascinating element of Marie de France's literary art involves the description of nonverbal objects or objets d'art. These objects are numerous throughout the Lais and are frequently related in great detail, assuming a narrative role of their own within the diegesis by means of ekphrasis.
In Guigemar they support a structure that accomplishes the narration of the story, not necessarily through explicit discourse in the form of direct or indirect style, but more by means of the art of descriptio. For example, the painting of Venus on the wall of the room where Guigemar's future lover is imprisoned informs the reading of a fundamental theme throughout the lai: the theme of love. Furthermore, the use of the painting as narrative device permits the poet to align herself implicitly with the goddess of love in order to communicate her own role as authority in the domain of fin amors. Therefore, the objet d'art is not simply an “object” in Marie's narrative plan but is, in fact, a catalyst in the generation and transmission of the text.
KeywordsComparative Literature Historical Linguistic Explicit Discourse Fundamental Theme Narrative Device
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