April begins

The current outbreak of Covid 19 is making it hard to find time for writing but this morning I have been able to do some work on my chapter for The Rise and Rise of Romance book – a nice reminder in its medieval aspect that there have been plagues before, some much worse, and the world has recovered. In response to the Black Death Boccaccio wrote, and Chaucer followed him, particularly recalling attitudes such as the riotours’ who waylaid the old man. A whole post-plague culture arose, and maybe it will happen now, but storytelling will continue, and so will attempts to understand our ancestors’ views and interpretations of the world around them in the narratives they left.

So to Boeve, something approaching a line of argument is slowly beginning to resolve itself,  an almost straight line from my introductory paragraph through to the revelation that Boeve was a real person, that in his Vita Pentecost was significant, as was St Laurence, and Cordova/Cordoba also has tangential significance. All these additonal elements seem to pop up in unexepected ways, without supporting contexts, until you see where they come from! Cordova is particularly allusive and elusive, but perfectly relevant. The St Eustace legend fits into this story, as it’s influence has already been flagged up in the Boeve poem.

In addition today, Ann Williams’ work on the taini regis has added a little to the poem’s treatment of its recent history. The big challenge remains which way to read the Angevin lineage, and the over-writing of Wessex. There’s a lot of research still to do on that and being unable to get to the university isn’t helping, but at least it feels like a bit of progress today.

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