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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Medieval narratives create order on the basis of causal sequences in time. However, cyclical and episodic structures, formal fragmentation, incompletion, and the existence of multiple versions can offset the ordering power of narrative causality. Episodic narratives typically expose the artifices required to create both narrative and social order, thus raising the question of social continuity. By eschewing causality, episodes are heavily reliant on reiterated symbols and language. This article explores the relationship between narrative incoherence and dynastic discontinuity, how narrative discontinuity reveals social concerns, and how episodic form functions as a method for anticipating and shaping audience response. It considers repetition in Athelston, a Middle English romance, and coherence in James Simpson’s essay on Sir Degaré, Thomas Malory’s “Sir Gareth,” and the Folie Tristan d’Oxford. It also analyzes episodic structure in Beves of Hampton and The Seven Sages of Rome.

Keywords: medieval narratives, episodic structures, episodes, incoherence, repetition, Athelston, James Simpson, Thomas Malory, Beves of Hampton, The Seven Sages of Rome

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