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The Methods of Medieval Translators: A Comparison of the Latin Text of Virgil’s Aeneid with its Old French Adaptations
By Raymond J. Cormier
Edwin Mellen Press, 2011
This monograph examines the medieval French translation/adaptation of Virgil’s Aeneid. The work employs Relevance Theory, second language pedagogy and hermeneutics in its analysis.
Dating from about 1160, the Roman d’Eneas, considered by medieval scholars a halcyon romance, reinvents Virgil’s great Latin classic, the Aeneid, with compelling style. Cormier’s monograph is a specialized and comparative literary analysis that focuses on the anonymous author’s pivotal French text and his translation approach. Synthesizing through innovative and epistemological analyses, the study summarizes a wide variety of antecedent research, and represents a forty-year summation of archival investigation carried out principally in Western European libraries. As a hybrid, it also incorporates modern-day, practical and interdisciplinary methodological strategies borrowed from cognitive psychology, second-language acquisition pedagogy and philosophical pragmatics. In the current scholarly context of myriad Arthurian studies on Chrétien de Troyes, the ultimate goal is to highlight a neglected antecedent Romance of Antiquity, belonging to the historiographically-significant Matter of Troy. In many respects, the present publication is a sequel—on a more theoretical level—to the author’s groundbreaking monograph, One Heart One Mind: The Rebirth of Virgil’s Hero in Medieval French Romance (1973). Cormier follows in the tradition of Edmond Faral’s paradigmatic Recherches sur les sources latines… , 1913, Petit’s Naissances du roman (1985), Mora-Lebrun’s Enéide médiévale (1994) and “Mettre en romanz” (2008), and Logié’s Enéas… (1999), thus subjecting the romance—a significant Old French opus—to a deep, historico-hermeneutic reading from a North American viewpoint.
“To characterize Cormier’s work as an important treatment of the reception of Virgil in the medieval Roman d’Eneas is to reduce it drastically. It is also a vast study of adaptation and translation in general. Cormier pours a lifetime of learning into this wide-ranging study […]. It will be consulted by experts on the Roman d’Eneas. But anyone with an interest in translation theory, second-language acquisition, cognitive theory of learning, and the broader afterlife of the great Virgilian epic, would be well advised to read Cormier’s magnus opus and to keep it close at hand—it is both a monograph and a reference work. Cormier is at the crest of a wave of scholars revising the judgment of “anachronism” in the Roman d’Eneas and other medieval adaptations of ancient epic. The author’s free-wheeling, witty, allusive style keeps this book, though massively freighted with scholarship, highly readable.” — C. Stephen Jaeger, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign
“Forty years in the making, this study is literary archeology at its most imaginative and ambitious.”— Prof. Stephen G. Nichols, Johns Hopkins University
“Cormier’s [monograph] is a lively and learned account of French translations and adaptations of Virgil’s Aeneid, particularly the twelfthcentury Old French Roman d’Eneas. Through a variety of wide-ranging and interdisciplinary theoretical lenses, Cormier argues persuasively for the significance and relevance of this exemplary ‘roman antique’ to the (post-)modern world.”— Michelle Bolduc, French, Italian, and Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee