Jean de Saintré

Jean de Saintré
A Late Medieval Education in Love and Chivalry

Antoine de La Sale. Translated by Roberta L. Krueger and Jane H. M. Taylor

288 pages | 6 x 9 | 6 illus.
Cloth Jun 2014 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4586-8 | $59.95s | £39.00 | Add to cart
Ebook Jun 2014 | ISBN 978-0-8122-0939-6 | $59.95s | £39.00 | About | Add to cart
A volume in the Middle Ages Series
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"Jean de Saintré is an important late medieval text that not only contributes to our understanding of the development of the modern novel, it also offers important information about material culture, conventional gender roles, and social hierarchies in noble court culture. In addition to all that, it's really fun to read and now newly accessible in a fluent and colloquial English translation by Krueger and Taylor."—Peggy McCracken, University of Michigan

Written in 1456 and purporting to be the biography of an actual fourteenth-century knight, Jean de Saintré has been called the first modern novel in French and one of the first historical novels in any language. Taken in hand at the age of thirteen by an older and much more experienced lady, Madame des Belles Cousines, the youth grows into an accomplished knight, taking the prize in numerous tournaments and even leading a crusade against the infidels for the love of Madame. When he reaches maturity, Jean starts to rebel against Madame's domination by seeking out his own chivalric adventures. She storms off to her country estates and takes up with the burly abbot of a nearby monastery. The text takes a dark and uncourtly turn when Jean discovers their liaison and lashes out to avenge his lost love and honor, ruining Madame's reputation in the process.

Composed in the waning years of chivalry and at the threshold of the print revolution, Jean de Saintré incorporates disquisitions on sin and virtue, advice on hygiene and fashion, as well as lengthy set pieces of chivalric combat. Antoine de La Sale, who was, by turns, a page, a royal tutor, a soldier, and a judge at tournaments, embellished his text with wide-ranging insights into chivalric ideology, combat techniques, heraldry and warfare, and the moral training of a young knight. This superb translation—the first in nearly a hundred years—contextualizes the story with a rich introduction and a glossary and is suitable for scholars, students, and general readers alike. An encyclopedic compilation of medieval culture and a window into the lost world of chivalry, Jean de Saintré is a touchstone text for both the late Middle Ages and the emergence of the modern novel.

Roberta L. Krueger is Burgess Professor of French at Hamilton College and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance.

Jane H. M. Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Medieval French at Durham University and author of The Making of Poetry: Late-Medieval French Poetic Anthologies and The Poetry of François Villon: Text and Context.

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