"Offers the first full study of the allegorical knightly quest tradition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Richly satisfying, as impressive in the detail of its scholarship as in the elegance of its critical formulations. It seamlessly moves between different literary traditions and across conventional period boundaries. In Dr Nievergelt's treatment of this theme, the successive retellings of the tale of the knight's quest come to stand as an emblem of shifting values and norms, both religious and worldly; and of our repeated failures to realise those ideals." Dr Alex Davis, Department of English, University of St Andrews.
The literary motif of the "allegorical knightly quest" appears repeatedly in the literature of the late medieval/early modern period, notably in Spenser, but has hitherto been little examined. Here, in his examination of a number of sixteenth-century English allegorical-chivalric quest narratives, focussing on Spenser's Faerie Queene but including important, lesser-known works such as Stephen Bateman's Travayled Pylgrime and William Goodyear's Voyage of the Wandering Knight, the author argues that the tradition begins with the French writer Guillaume de Deguileville. His seminal Pelerinage de la vie humaine was composed c.1331-1355; it was widely adapted, translated, rewritten and printed over the next centuries. Dr Nievergelt goes on to demonstrate how this essentially "medieval" literary form could be adapted to articulate reflections on changing patterns of identity, society and religion during the early modern period; and how it becomes a vehicle of self-exploration and self-fashioning during a period of profound cultural crisis.
Dr Marco Nievergelt is Lecturer (Maitre Assitant) and SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Research Fellow in the English Department at the Universite de Lausanne