The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language, and Nation in the Hundred Years War

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Oxford University Press, Dec 10, 2009 - History - 444 pages
The Familiar Enemy re-examines the linguistic, literary, and cultural identities of England and France within the context of the Hundred Years War. During this war, two profoundly intertwined peoples developed complex strategies for expressing their aggressively intimate relationship. This special connection between the English and the French has endured into the modern period as a model for Western nationhood. Ardis Butterfield reassesses the concept of 'nation' in this period through a wide-ranging discussion of writing produced in war, truce, or exile from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, concluding with reflections on the retrospective views of this conflict created by the trials of Jeanne d'Arc and by Shakespeare's Henry V. She considers authors writing in French, 'Anglo-Norman', English, and the comic tradition of Anglo-French 'jargon', including Machaut, Deschamps, Froissart, Chaucer, Gower, Charles d'Orléans, as well as many lesser-known or anonymous works. Traditionally Chaucer has been seen as a quintessentially English author. This book argues that he needs to be resituated within the deeply francophone context, not only of England but the wider multilingual cultural geography of medieval Europe. It thus suggests that a modern understanding of what 'English' might have meant in the fourteenth century cannot be separated from 'French', and that this has far-reaching implications both for our understanding of English and the English, and of French and the French.

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About the author (2009)

Ardis Butterfield has published widely on English and French medieval literature and music. Her books include Poetry and Music in Medieval France from Jean Renart to Guillaume de Machaut (Cambridge, 2002), an edited collection of essays, Chaucer and the City (Cambridge, 2006). She has recently been awarded a Major Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2008-2011) to work on 'The Origins of English Song'. She has given several talks and interviews onmedieval literature and music for Radio 3 and Radio 4.

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