Volume 25, Issue 2, 2004
An Old French Romance and its Adaptations
Claire M. Jackson
The City as Two-Way Mirror in the Middle English Partonope of Blois
The Middle English Partonope of Blois possesses two characteristics which are more in keeping with twelfth-century French romance than with fifteenth-century English literature: a strong focus on place and the forceful presence of the heroine. Both Melior and her city undergo a substantial shift in identity: Melior is transformed from a dominating woman who seeks to control the hero into a more passive figure; Chef d'Oire changes both in character — from being an otherworldly magical place with its own independent sense of time to a tournament venue more grounded in reality — and in the terminology which is used to describe it. Throughout the work Melior and her city are portrayed as interdependent and inseparable, and in order to convert the initially subversive and powerful Melior into a more conventional romance heroine it is also necessary to adapt the image of her city.