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Durham e-Theses
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Suspended Endings: The Mechanics of Medieval Continuation in the Perceval Continuations

TETHER, LEAH,ROSEANN (2009) Suspended Endings: The Mechanics of Medieval Continuation in the Perceval Continuations. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The notion of ‘Continuation’ in medieval literature is a familiar one – but it is one which does not know any precise definition. Despite the existence of important texts which take the form of what we nominally call ‘Continuation’, such as Le Roman de la Rose, Le Chevalier de la Charrette and of course the Perceval Continuations, to date no work exists which specifically examines the mechanics and processes involved in actually producing a ‘Continuation’. The existence and importance of ‘Continuation’ as a genre of medieval literature are undeniable, and yet we cannot begin to claim that we fully understand it. This thesis therefore seeks to make the first tentative movements in creating a working model for understanding what some call the Poetics of Continuation, and it does so by means of close and meticulous analysis of the manuscript tradition and content of the Perceval Continuations.

The Perceval Continuations (composed c.1200-1230) constitute a vast body of material which incorporates four separately authored Continuations, each of which seeks to further, in some way, the unfinished Perceval of Chrétien de Troyes – though they are not merely responses to his work. Chronologically, they were composed one after the other, and the next in line picks up where the previous left off, thus they respond intertextually to each other as well as to Chrétien, and only one actually furnishes the story as a whole with an ending. As such the Continuations offer an interesting and varied patchwork from whence to begin a study of this kind. By means of a framework of careful methodological design, incorporating theories on what constitutes an ‘end’ and what is ‘unfinished’, alongside scrutiny of other, selected, medieval ‘ends’ and ‘Continuations’, this thesis examines, first, what the manuscript tradition can tell us about the medieval view of ‘Continuation’ in terms of whether the Perceval Continuations seem to have been considered as one homogenous whole, or as several separate œuvres, and second, in terms of content and construction, what kind of ‘Continuation’ each individual text proposes, and how, mechanically, it does so. This analysis culminates in the creation of an efficient working model that aims to facilitate the further study and investigation of other medieval ‘continuatory’ texts.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Closure; Continuation; Perceval; Conte du Graal; Chrétien de Troyes
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Jan 2010 11:27

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