Rebecca Dixon (University of Liverpool), Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Liverpool, Cypress Building, Chatham Street, Liverpool L69 7ZR, United Kingdom, Rebecca.Dixon@liverpool.ac.uk
The fifteenth-century Burgundian mises en prose have not always enjoyed the best press. As recastings of earlier Francophone sources, they have been traditionally, and dismissively, seen by critics as insipid examples of intralingual translation. More recent scholars have countered this unfavourable view, examining more closely the passage from verse to prose, and suggesting ways in which adaptation of the earlier narrative functions as cultural appropriation – ‘acculturation’ –, for the new Burgundian audience. But in this literary genre, and in this courtly milieu, such transformation goes further. Those studies which have looked at its cultural importance in the mises en prose do so on a purely textual level, without accounting for the investment in lavish material production evinced by the works’ manuscript presentation, and without accounting for the narrative preoccupation with certain types of episode at the Burgundian court under Philip the Good. Using the Paris manuscript of La Fille du Comte de Ponthieu (BnF, ms fr. 12572; before 1468) as a limit case, this chapter aims to redress the balance. Focussing on scenes of travel, combat and ceremony in both text and paratext, I show how the transformed prose work invests more heavily in such episodes than does its source, revealing an ideology of conspicuous consumption. Further, these scenes’ importance for the plot is subsidiary to their role in underlying the customary excess with which Burgundy conceived and expressed this distinctive ideology. Textual transformation in Fille provides the narrative articulation of lifestyle aspirations encoded in the book’s physical presentation as consumable luxury object.
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