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Title: Saintly Asceticism and the Literary Machine: The Many Lives of Saint Anthony the Great
Authors: Bourgeois, Christine Valerie
Advisors: Kay, Sarah
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Subjects: Medieval literature
Modern literature
Romance literature
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The primary purpose of this dissertation is to provide an appreciation of the aesthetic profile of medieval hagiography, grounded in an understanding of its contribution to literary culture both medieval and modern. Centering analysis on the crucial figure of Saint Anthony the Great, I shall demonstrate that Anthony and the narrative tradition of his life are not only foundational to medieval hagiographical writing but also highly representative of the role of saintliness in French literary history from the Middle Ages to the modern period. Part I, &ldquo; Ab eo omnes &rdquo;, examines the impact of Anthony's model of sanctity over the course of the medieval period. Chapter I discusses the role of the Late Antique tradition of Saint Anthony in medieval France, arguing that this legend broke the pattern of Christological mimesis on which hagiography had previously depended. Chapter II discusses the breakdown this caused in textual believability, claiming that it effectively and metatextually enacted the impossibility of the hagiographical task, that is to say, the representation of an unrepresentable God. The second part of this dissertation, &ldquo; The Literary Machine &rdquo; examines the impact of the Anthony tradition on subsequent saintly narratives, both medieval and modern. Chapter III explores the mutation of the story of Saint Anthony over the course of the Middle Ages, describing the prioritization this caused of aesthetic over accuracy as well as the disappearance of this value-system in religious literature over the course of the sixteenth century. Chapter IV explores its uncanny reappearance in Flaubert's 1874 <italic>Tentation de Saint Antoine</italic>. I conclude with a consideration of the significant impact that Flaubert's Tentation had on the secular arts over the course of the late nineteenth century. Finally, I draw together the strands developed over the course of the dissertation, in order to demonstrate the debt that modern understandings of literary transcendence owe to medieval hagiographical methods.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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