INSULAR SOURCES AND ANALOGUES OF THE OTHERWORLD IN THE MIDDLE ENGLISH SIR ORFEO

Jordi Sánchez Martí

Abstract


The Middle English Sir Orfeo presents a medievalized version of the classical myth of Orpheus that shows the influence of Celtic lore. Modern scholars seem to have accepted the views of A. J. Bliss, the editor of the Middle English romance, who argues that the English text is a translation of an Anglo-Norman or Old French version. Since we have no textual evidence that can positively support Bliss’s hypothesis, this article tests the possibility that the Middle English romance actually represents an insular tradition of the Orpheus myth that originated in Anglo-Saxon times with King Alfred’s rendering of the story and continued evolving by means of oral-memorial transmission until the fourteenth century, when the English romance was written down in the Auchinleck manuscript.


Keywords


Sir Orfeo; King Alfred; Otherworld; Walter Map; Marie de France; Geoffrey of Monmouth

Full Text:

PDF

References


The Adventure of Cian’s Son Teigue. Ed. Standish H. O’Grady. Silva Gadelica. Vol. 2: 385–401. London, 1832–1915. 31 vols.

Allen, Dorena. “Orpheus and Orfeo: The Dead and the Taken.” Medium Ævum 33 (1964): 102–11. https://doi.org/10.2307/43627090

Archibald, Elizabeth. “The Breton Lay in Middle English: Genre, Transmission and the Franklin’s Tale.” Medieval Insular Romance: Translation and Innovation. Eds. Judith Weiss, Jennifer Fellows and Morgan Dickson. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000. 55–70.

Bennett, J. A. W. Middle English Literature. Ed. Douglas Gray. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986.

Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam. Rome: Desclée, 1956.

Bliss, J. A. ed. Sir Orfeo. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.

Boethius. Consolatio Philosophiae. Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 67. Ed. W. Weinberger. Vienna: Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1934.

Brereton, Georgine E. “A Thirteenth-Century List of French Lays and Other Narrative Poems.” Modern Language Review 45 (1950): 40–45. https://doi.org/10.2307/3719658

Brooke, C. N. L. “Map, Walter (d. 1209/10).” Matthew and Harrison 36. 577–79.

Brouland, Marie-Thérèse. Sir Orfeo: Le substrat celtique du lai breton anglais. Paris: Didier, 1990.

Burgess, Glyn S., and Keith Busby. Trans. The Lais of Marie de France. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1999.

Burnley, David and Alison Wiggins. The Auchinleck Manuscript. National Library of Scotland, 2003. Web. 10 May 2017. .

Burrow, J. A. and Thorlac Turville-Petre. A Book of Middle English. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

Cartlidge, Neil. “Sir Orfeo in the Otherworld: Courting Chaos?” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 26 (2004): 195–226. https://doi.org/10.1353/sac.2004.0038

Chestre, Thomas. Syr Launfal. Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance. Ed. Jennifer Fellows. Everyman’s Library. London: Dent, 1993. 199–229.

Crick, J. C. “Monmouth, Geoffrey of (d. 1154/5).” Matthew and Harrison 38. 629–32.

Friedman, John B. Orpheus in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.

Gordon, E. V. An Introduction to Old Norse. 2nd ed. Rev. A. R. Taylor. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957.

Gray, Douglas. “Chestre, Thomas (fl. late 14th–early 15th cent.).” Matthew and Harrison 11. 353.

Hunt, Tony. “Marie (fl. c.1180–c.1189).” Matthew and Harrison 36. 666.

Jirsa, Curtis R. H. “In the Shadow of the Ympe-tre: Arboreal Folklore in Sir Orfeo.” English Studies 89 (2008): 141–51. https://doi.org/10.1080/00138380801912909

Keen, Maurice. England in the Later Middle Ages: A Political History. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2003.

Ker, N. R. and A. J. Piper. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. Vol. 4. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. 5 vols. 1969–2002.

Kittredge, George L. “Sir Orfeo.” American Journal of Philology 7 (1886): 177–202. https://doi.org/10.2307/287332

King Alfred. “From King Alfred’s Translation of Boethius.” Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse. Rev. Dorothy Whitelock. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970. 8–16.

Knapp, James F. “The Meaning of Sir Orfeo.” Modern Language Quaterly 29 (1968): 263–73. https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-29-3-263

Lengenfelder, Helga, ed. Christine de Pizan, L’Epistre d’Othéa: Farbmikrofiche-Edition der Handschrift Erlangen-Nürnberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. 2361. Codices illuminati medii aevi 31. Munich: Editions Helga Lengenfelder, 1996.

Loomis, Roger Sherman. Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance. 1926. London: Constable, 1995.

Lutze, Eberhard. Die Bilderhandschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1971.

Map, Walter. De nugis curialium: Courtiers’ Trifles. Ed. and trans. M. R. James, rev. C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983.

Marie de France. Lais. Ed. Alfred Ewert. Blackwell’s French Texts. Oxford: Blackwell, 1965.

Marvin, William P. “Chronological Outline of Historical Events and Texts in Britain, 1050–1550.” The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Ed. David Wallace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 852–80.

Matthew, H. C. G. and Brian Harrison. Eds. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 61 vols.

Mitchell, Bruce. “The Faery World of Sir Orfeo.” Neophilologus 48 (1964): 155–59. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01515535

Monmouth, Geoffrey of. Life of Merlin: Vita Merlini. Ed. and trans. Basil Clarke. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1973.

Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards. A New Index of Middle English Verse. London: The British Library, 2005.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. 3rd ed. Rev. G. P. Goold. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984. 2 vols.

Owen, Lewis J. “The Recognition Scene in Sir Orfeo.” Medium Ævum 40 (1971): 249–53. https://doi.org/10.2307/43627748

Parkes, M. B. Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1992.

Patch, Howard R. “Some Elements in Mediæval Descriptions of the Otherworld.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 33 (1918): 601–43. https://doi.org/10.2307/456983

---. The Other World according to Descriptions in Medieval Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950.

Pearl. The Works of the Gawain Poet: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience. Eds. Ad Putter and Myra Stokes. London: Penguin, 2014. 2014: 3–81.

Pearsall, Derek, and I. C. Cunningham. Eds. The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS. 19.2.1. London: Scolar Press, 1979.

The Phoenix. Ed. N. F. Blake. Old and Middle English Texts. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1964.

Purdie, Rhiannon, ed. Shorter Scottish Medieval Romances: Florimond of Albany, Sir Colling the Knycht, King Orphius, Roswall and Lillian. Scottish Text Society. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2013.

Putter, Ad. “A Historical Introduction.” The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance. Eds. Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert. Harlow: Longman, 2000. 1–15, 31–34.

---. An Introduction to the Gawain-Poet. London: Longman, 1996.

---. and Jane Gilbert. Eds. The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance. Harlow: Longman, 2000.

---. and Myra Stokes. Eds. The Works of the Gawain Poet: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience. London: Penguin, 2014.

Rogers, G. “The Percy Folio Manuscript Revisited.” Romance in Medieval England. Ed. Maldwin Mills, Jennifer Fellows and Carol Meale. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991. 39–64.

Saunders, Corinne. “Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance”. Studies in Medieval Romance 13. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2010.

Severs, J. Burke. “The Antecedents of Sir Orfeo.” Studies in Medieval Literature in Honor of Professor Albert Croll Baugh. Ed. MacEdward Leach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1961. 187–207. https://doi.org/10.9783/9781512817508-012

Seymour, M. C. “Bartholomaeus Anglicus (b. before 1203, d. 1272).” Matthew and Harrison 4. 161–62.

Sisam, Kenneth. Studies in the History of Old English Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Works of the Gawain Poet: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience. Eds. Ad Putter and Myra Stokes. London: Penguin, 2014. 237–406.

Sir Orfeo. Ed. A. J. Bliss. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.

Smithers, G. V. “Story Patterns in Some Breton Lays.” Medium AEvum 22 (1953): 61–92. https://doi.org/10.2307/43626509

Spearing, A. C. “Sir Orfeo: Madness and Gender.” Putter and Gilbert. 258–72.

Stokes, Myra. “Lanval to Sir Launfal: A Story Becomes Popular.” Putter and Gilbert. 56–77.

The Turk and Gowin. Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript: Ballads and Romances. Ed. John W. Hales and Frederick J. Furnivall. Vol. 1: 90–102. London, 1867-1868. 4 vols.

Virgil. Georgicon. P. Vergili Maronis Opera. Ed. R. A. B. Mynors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

The Voyage of Bran Son of Febal. Ed. and trans. Kuno Meyer. London, 1895–97. 2 vols.

The Voyage of Mael Duin. Ed. and trans. Whitley Stokes. Revue Celtique 9 (1888): 447–95; 10 (1889): 50–95.

The Voyage of the Húi Corra. Ed. and trans. Whitley Stokes. Revue Celtique 14 (1893): 22–69.

Wade, James. Fairies in Medieval Romance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230119154

The Wasting Sickness of Cú Chulainn (Trans. of Sergigle Con Culainn). Ed. and trans. Myles Dillon. Columbus: Hendrick, 1941.

Weber, Ben. “‘Smothe and Plain and Al Grene’: Sir Orfeo’s Flat Fairyland.” Notes and Queries, n. s., 58 (2011): 24–28.

The Wooing of Etain (Trans. of Tochmarc Étaíne). Ed. Osborn Bergin. Trans. Eleanor Knott. Ériu 12 (1938): 142–93.

Wormald, Patrick. “Alfred (848/9–899).” Matthew and Harrison 1. 716–25.




DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.17561/grove.v24.a6

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.