Chapters (Layout Features)


Crane, Susan

These romances do not treat their subjects as if they had no correlatives in life. On the contrary, insular poets seem as interested in their ability to comment on the world as in their capacity to escape life's necessities or to idealize life's processes through the transformations of poetry. They are sharply aware of contemporary political, religious, and cultural principles, and they examine as well a set of convictions important to the barony: that noble power rests in the land and its heritability, so that noble merit inheres in perpetuating the patrimony and the family; furthermore, that the behaviors fostered by this system—courageous initiative in war, respect for law and custom in peace, cultivation of social graces through wealth—are virtues that justify and expand the dominance brought by landholding. The insular romances give poetic form to this ideology and to other beliefs, dramatizing their confrontations and finally picturing all of them contributing to baronial
advancement. In summary, insular romances resist the political principle that national or royal interests must come before baronial ambition, the Christian teaching that religious values are superior to concern for the world, and the cultural principle that courtliness transforms its adepts beyond the merely human. To be sure, these dominant ideologies deeply affect the romances, providing them with important measures of value.


Also Published In

Insular Romance: Politics, Faith, and Culture in Anglo-Norman and Middle English Literature
University of California Press

More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Published Here
December 9, 2009