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Fiction and Incarnation

Rhetoric, Theology, and Literature in the Middle Ages

2002
Author:

Alexandre Leupin
Translated by David Laatsch

Fiction and Incarnation

A fresh look at the relationship between theology and rhetoric.


Focusing on the Incarnation, this book offers a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated investigation of the relationship between Christian discourse and literature from Roman antiquity to the fourteenth century through a look at texts by Cicero, Quintilian, Martianus Capella, Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Alain of Lille, Guillaume de Machaut, and others.

Fiction and Incarnation is a courageous, erudite, original, and significant book that is superbly written. Its implications work to offer a new perspective upon the Middle Ages, but also to link the Middle Ages to the present.

R. Howard Bloch, Augustus R. Street Professor of French, Yale University

Focusing on the Incarnation-the only dogma original to Christianity, in which God becomes man and history-this book offers a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated investigation of the relationship between Christian discourse and literature from Roman antiquity to the fourteenth century through a look at texts by Cicero, Quintilian, Martianus Capella, Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Alain of Lille, Guillaume de Machaut, and others.

Alexandre Leupin asks if it is possible to go beyond the dialectics of the Incarnated God and the Devil without harking back to the beautiful but partially obsolete truths of paganism and sophistry. Employing a method inspired by psychoanalysis, Leupin repudiates the sophistry and relativism of postmodern theory while calling into question old commonplaces that have been invalidated by modernity. He does so by attending to the larger and deeper structures hidden within the discourses of theology, rhetoric, literature, and psychoanalysis. The result is an innovative perspective on the Middle Ages, an original and promising view of the problems of Western literature in relation to theology and rhetoric.

Alexandre Leupin is Gregorie Professor in French studies at Louisiana State University. He is the author of many books, including, in English translation, Barbarolexis: Medieval Literature and Sexuality (1989).

David Laatsch is a Ph.D. candidate in the French department of Louisiana State University.

Fiction and Incarnation

Alexandre Leupin is Gregorie Professor in French studies at Louisiana State University. He is the author of many books, including, in English translation, Barbarolexis: Medieval Literature and Sexuality.

David Laatsch is a Ph.D. candidate in the French department of Louisiana State University.

Fiction and Incarnation

Fiction and Incarnation is a courageous, erudite, original, and significant book that is superbly written. Its implications work to offer a new perspective upon the Middle Ages, but also to link the Middle Ages to the present.

R. Howard Bloch, Augustus R. Street Professor of French, Yale University

Alexandre Leupin’s new book, equally attentive to theology and the practices of writing, furnishes a welcome deconstruction of this system of (non) thought. With erudition, a sophistication honed at the tables of contemporary theory, and a ferocious passion for the complex, rigorous argumentation, this book cheerfully, determinedly reverses the established problematics of a discipline all too ready to engorge half-truths and oversimplification sin fundamental matters such as the relationship of religion and literature-a special case of the relation between ‘meaning’ and ‘writing’.

Peter Haidu, MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly

It is impossible to do justice to Leupin’s rich and coherent argument within the compass of a brief review, but the challenging thesis of Fiction and Incarnation seems to me very important. it is the sort of book in which everyone will find something to disagree with, but the disagreements will be well worth thinking through.

Speculum

Fiction and Incarnation

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Christian Epistemological Break

1.The Be-Seeming: Cicero and Quintilian
2.The Break: Tertullian
3.Fornication: Saint Augustine
4.Knowledge and Lacunae: Martianus Capella
5.A Divine Harmony: Isidore of Seville
6.“Sancta Simplicitas”: The Old French Sequence of Saint Eulalia
7.Axiomatic Fiction; or, Of Books and Heresies: Alain of Lille
8.The Counterfeit: The Roman de Renart
9.Disincarnation: Guillaume de Machaut

Coda
Notes

Index