The Vernacular Panther: Encyclopedism, Citation and French Authority in Nicole de Margival's Dit de la panthere

Zingesser, Eliza

Nicole de Margival’s Dit de la panthere (ca. 1290–1328) has long been read as a poorly written and unoriginal composition. Bernard Ribemont, the text’s most recent editor, describes its rhetorical construction as boring and its poet as laborious. Anne Berthelot, another recent critic, goes
so far as to draw a parallel between the protagonist’s pusillanimity and Nicole de Margival’s constant recourse to the words and authority of others. The aim of this article is not to demonstrate the originality of the Panthere but rather to show that its borrowings (some of which I aim to
identify for the first time) are not all of the same variety. While explicitly acknowledged French authors and texts are used to align the Panthere with the coeval encyclopedic tradition that was flourishing in Italy and France, two unrecognized Italian sources—Brunetto Latini’s Tesoretto (1280) and Dante Alighieri’s De vulgari eloquentia (ca. 1302–5)—are silently incorporated
into the Panthere. Whereas the texts of French ‘‘authors’’ are treated as sources of knowledge that can be mined and put back into circulation via citation and quotation, Nicole’s Italian sources are evacuated of their epistemic content, partially through the effacement of the subject positions
of their authors. This strategy of authorizing French texts and deauthorizing Italian ones suggests that the Dit de la panthere had stakes in the promotion and illustration of French vernacular authority.


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Modern Philology

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French and Romance Philology
The University of Chicago Press
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July 15, 2014