Volume 25, Issue 2, 2004

An Old French Romance and its Adaptations

J. Chimène Batemzin
Pages 163-179

Problems of Recognition
The Fallible Narrator and the Female Addressee in Partonopeude Blois

This paper is concerned with two interrelated aspects of the Old French Partonopeus de Blois; the subjective perspective of the narrator, and the theme of recognition. The frequent narratorial interventions show that the poet's position is not one of detachment: his own desire intrudes into the story of Partonopeus, and the two tales of desire inform each other; in this way, the romance may almost be interpreted as a confession addressed to the female beloved. The narrator repeatedly identifies himself with female characters, claiming that his personal experience has allowed him to recognize their inner realities: his identification with these female characters and his failure to communicate with his beloved can be seen as related phenomena. The female addressee does not merely provide the poet with an excuse to work; she also enables him to produce a new and complex kind of literary discourse.