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Cover for the book Medieval Spanish Epic

Medieval Spanish Epic

Mythic Roots and Ritual Language Thomas Montgomery
  • Copyright: 1998
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 184 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-01738-9
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02824-8
  • Series Name: Studies in Romance Literatures
“Montgomery’s opus represents an important point of reference for the study of Hispanic epic. Not only does it reaffirm many worthy ideas about employment of myth in epic but it serves up new insights on the linguistic expressiveness of epic in its ritual aspect, illuminating the text and the process by which its author links it to its universe of letters and himself to his listener.”
“Over the past two decades, Thomas Montgomery has been steadily providing us with a series of outstandingly innovative and perceptive articles on the medieval Spanish epic. This book is the culmination of this work. . . . Montgomery's presentation is eminently learned and eminently convincing. It puts the Old Spanish epic in a totally new perspective and brings to bear new and startling evidence, which will oblige critics to take into account the genre's ancient, multi-secular origins. For its consistent and authoritative control of both literary and linguistic theory and their application to the Old Spanish texts, Montgomery's work ranks among the very best studies I have been privileged to read on the medieval epic.”

This book takes a new look at the place occupied by medieval Spanish epic within European folk and literary tradition. Thomas Montgomery traces the origins of key parts of most known medieval Spanish epics to an ancient myth. He shows how the myth of the initiation of the young warrior, shown by Georges Dumézil to be fundamental to the belief systems of widely distributed Indo-European peoples, was variously adapted to shape the action of texts including the Siete Infantes de Lara, the Mocedades de Rodrigo, and the Poema de Mio Cid, in which it accounts for the peculiar behavior of the Infantes de Carrión. Montgomery also connects the same mythic tradition to works as diverse as Tristan and the Chanson de Roland.‡In a preliterate society, the oral presentation of this archetypal lore required a special language capable of re-creating the ritualized behavior of the epic characters and maintaining the ceremonial tone of the performance. Focusing on the Poema de Mio Cid, Montgomery examines the ways in which the poetic language worked to evoke a feeling of group unity that absorbed the audience and still works its spell upon today's readers.

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