January 12, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Dutch Design: The Case of the Thirteenth Century Arthurian Romance of Moriaen
Marjolein Hogenbirk, Instructor in Middle Dutch language and literature, Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht
Piano Lounge, Graham House, Green College, UBC
The Middle Dutch Romance of Moriaen is an intriguing text, and a challenge for scholars. Nothing is known about the audience of the romance, so the literary and historical background has to be reconstructed from the text itself and from circumstantial evidence from the Dutch and French traditions. The only extant version of the Moriaen was inserted in a 14th-century manuscript (The Lancelotcompilation, The Hague 129 A 10), containing ten Arthurian Romances. The compiler of this manuscript reworked the romances he inserted, and research has shown that his hand is also clearly visible in the Moriaen. The Romance of Moriaen has a remarkable main character: the first black titular hero of western literature. He is the 15-year-old Moriaen who comes to Arthur’s court to find his father and eventually becomes one of King Arthur’s best knights. In the original romance the father was Perceval, Chrétien’s grail hero whose quest is described as a failure, and so Moriaen should be interpreted in connection with Le Conte Graal. There are many epic elements in the romance, which makes it also a hybrid work.