The Song of Roland Criticism

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The Song of Roland was largely ignored by critics and the reading public until the nineteenth century. In their cursory examinations of the French epic, the first commentators on the work considered it lacking in emotionalism, primitive, and inferior to Greek and Latin epic. The first real interest in the text stemmed from a debate between Gaston Paris, the most illustrious professor of medieval French literature in late nineteenth-century France, and his student, Joseph Bedier. Paris claimed that The Song of Roland was an essentially oral text, having been sung by minstrels since the battle of Roncesvalles. The written text, he contended, was simply a version of the oral story copied down by a cleric. This critical approach is called "traditionalism." Bedier contended that, while the story of Roland and Olivier was a popular legend, the cleric who found in the legend material for an epic poem added...

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This section contains 696 words
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The Song of Roland from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.