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Title: Fiction's Truths: False Confessions from the Roman de Renart to Chaucer's Pardoner
Authors: Matukhin, Max
Advisors: Heller-Roazen, Daniel
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Boccaccio
Middle English
Old French
Subjects: Comparative literature
Medieval literature
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The theological movements that culminated in the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 seem to have had repercussions not only on religious life but also on writers’ conceptions of language’s potentialities and truthfulness. By rendering annual confession mandatory and reinforcing the importance of preaching, the Council placed an unprecedented significance on the signifying and effective functions of language, promoting oratorial and penitential speech acts that needed to be not only truthful but also sacramentally effective. Authors of literary texts were quick to pick up on these changes, and already the first years of the thirteenth century see false confessions and sermons being evoked in literary texts as ways of investigating the boundaries between truthfulness and falsehood, literature and reality, the profane and the sacred. This dissertation explores the notion of literary truth through the lens of false confessions between 1200 and 1400 in a wide range of literary works from the Old French Roman de Renart and Roman de la Rose through Dante Alighieri’s Commedia and Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale. The reflections on truthfulness, falsity, and the role of literature that these texts stage through evocations of the sacrament of penance and the practice of preaching allow one to investigate the way in which medieval authors positioned themselves vis-à-vis the theological, philosophical, and ecclesiastical developments of their time in an attempt to create a space in which literature could function beyond the binary opposition of truth and falsehood.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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