Haunted landscapes: Human encounters with the environment in Perceforest

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Abstract

This essay considers the ways in which the landscape that surrounds the characters of Perceforest works to shape their identities. It brings together a variety of moments at which the characters' inanimate surroundings speak to them of themselves or of someone closely associated with them, by means of a monument or meaningful object set in a significant place. The incongruity of coming upon a fixed and inanimate tableau that conveys a message about human identity renders these encounters « haunting »: the lack of a human presence is felt as jarring. Such moments teach us not only how identity is molded and transformed - a significant question for a romance in which anonymity, name-change and the loss of selfhood are recurring themes - but how the romance characters experience the space through which they move as an alienating and aggressive force, one that controls them even as they seek to dominate it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-199
Number of pages15
JournalCahiers de Recherches Medievales
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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