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The participants summarise their talks

  • The cultural renaissance of the 12th Century. Errant knights and reading ladies
    Carlos García Gual
    In the 12th century, the literature that is written is done in young vulgar languages, and not in the scholar clerical Latin anymore, celebrating passional love (this is, l´amour, "that invention of the 12th century") and knightly courtesy and adventure. It would gain a splendid relevance in the medieval Europe and aim at new horizons. The literary fashions will have feudal France as the cultural center, but will disseminate early into other countries. Epic songs of heroic deeds will be followed by troubadour lyric singing a more or less courteous erotism, and by the novelesque fictions of the fantastic adventures led by bold errant knights. Echoes of passionate tales of tragic love can be heard, like Tristan and Iseult or Lancelot and Geneva, and stories of heroic deeds by lonely heroes in the search of the utopian and ideal court of the mythical King Arthur, on the quest for a kidnapped noble dame or the Holy Grail, all clear proofs of the feverish fantasy of a time period of unstoppable poetic commitment, the time of the first Gothic art and of the so-called "first European Renaissance". The romans of Alexandre, of Troya, of Eneas and of Tebas are followed by the fast-paced novels of Chrétien de Troyes, the first great European novelist, with a Faerie and Celtic background, and instead of the ancient Alexandre now the King Arthur shines. The subtile erotism and refined courtesy show the literary tastes of the new courtly audience, where the tone is provided by the the gentle ladies and maidens who read and stimulate the fantasies of the early Romanticism. The echoes of those chimeric stories and refined ideals and their exemplary passion will resonate at length, maybe with nostalgia an irony, in the many novels and readers of the posterior novelesque literature.
  • Tristan
    Isabel de Riquer

    The tale of Tristan and Iseult has been causing scandal for almost 900 years, since the mid 12th century when a legend that had been in circulation for some time along Europe transmitted vocally by minstrels and bards, was written in French. A legend about two youngsters that became lovers through a potion and died that same day. If this finale was a condemnation of adulterous loves, it also glorified them by making a love so great that it would be remembered forever through a literary monument. The nature of the potion and the non-exemplary behavior of the protagonists received condemnations and harsh criticism, but also enthusiastic praises, allusions, imitations, and rewritings by the most relevant poets, novelists, chroniclers, or composers of those times. The most relevant scenes of the history where represented in objects, ceramics, tapestries, frescoes, miniatures, oil paintings, and drawings. Dozens of versions have been made in all time periods and all languages of history, always the same and always different: philosophical, symbolic, tragic or cryptic; and still nowadays it continues being an object of research by the most rigorous philologists. A tale of a love that has left no one indifferent and has become a myth, because Tristan and Iseult is not a tale linked to the adventures of the knights of the Round Table, which harmonized both love and cavalry, but Tristan is new model of of hero in the stemming medieval literature: the ingenious hero, he who instead of the sword and the spear, uses a thousand tricks and a thousand disguises to meet the queen Iseult.

    Regardless of the possible influence from other cultures that the original story could have, Tristan and Iseult is a French polite story, written and incorporated in the most fertile and exceptional period of the European medieval literature. Its structure in chapters, as well as its social environment, its profane ethic of love and the conflict between individual liberty and the institutions, corresponds to a coherent literary aesthetic of a particular time, and is aimed at a particular public. But the extraordinary art of these first writers, from which we know nothing, has managed to keep the attraction of the story until our days because it is basically a story of love and death, timeless, universal, and by no means exemplary. And also, because in the tale there is an exquisite combination of adventure and reflexion, joy and sorrow, violence, realism, disguises, erotism and sweet tenderness.

  • King Arthur
    Carlos Alvar
    The conference will present the formation and development of the king Arthur myth, using historiography as the starting point, together with the spirituality found at the end of the 11th century and beginning of the 12th, and the literary tradition over which the texts are built. Starting from these three axes, we will draft a short sketch of the main contributions of the different texts to the Arthurian legend. Themes, character, constitutive elements of one of the most enduring myths in Western Europe, will be analyzed in the context needed, and with a diachronic perspective that will allow to understand apparently irrelevant or decorative traits.
  • The myth of the Grail in literature and in art
    Victoria Cirlot
    Since the Middle Ages until our days the myth of the Grail has been created and recreated in images and texts. Its first apparition is located around the year 1180 in the novel by Chrétien de Troyes Story of the Grail, an unfinished work that stemmed continuations, translations and new elaborations. The construction and creation of the myth by French and German writers is located between 1180 and 1230. The significative power of the myth produced a never-ending search of meanings until the liturgic drama by Richard Wagner Parsifal, a work mediating between the Middle Ages and the 20th century that has allowed the myth to survive in both literature and cinema. This conference will attempt to answer the question of what are the reasons behind the great echoes that this myth had in European culture across all these centuries.
  • The return to Camelot. Arthurian legend and the romanticism of the Victorian age
    Carlos García Gual

    Who could have foreseen the resurrection of the cult to King Arthur and his knights in the prosaic mercantile middle class of Kensington in the Victorian era? Who could have imagined that the Widowed Queen would listen with rapture the plaintive voice of the official poet of the court singing the deeds of Lancelot and his love with Geneva? As J.H. Plumb would write (in his book The Death Of The Past), the longing of Victorian England for recovering the medieval and mythical world of courteous and knightly Camelot was a historical phenomenon extremely surprising. Medieval castles, tournaments, armor, emblems and knightly manners became fashionable again in notorious contrast to the dominant bourgeois tendency and rapid and overwhelming modernity of the nineteenth-century England, the most prosperous nation due to its industrial and commercial progress. What a strange longing of a fantastic and medieval past, which with an impressive success fostered the most famous writers and artists! Walter Scott with is novels. L.A. Tennyson with his melancholic Idylls of the King, the PreRaphaelian painters, and the Neogothic architecture in fashion, all evoked the splendor of the ancient Camelot, and the elegant courtiers simulating "chivalrous gentlemen" of a new knightly empire. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory was still and emotive and popular reading. In his tomb, prince Albert lied covered by a medieval armor equivalent to the Black Prince.

    Remembering that ghostly evocation, so British and full of modernity, of the fabulous knightly universe, in nostalgia and twilight homage, can invite, I believe, to some reflections about the strange fascinations of the literary tradition. 

Videos
Ver vídeo: El renacer cultural del siglo XII y el romanticismo de la época victoriana
Ver vídeo: El Rey Arturo
Fundación Juan March
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