• The medieval Hero and anti-hero in one and the same person: Huon de Bordeaux deconstructive perspectives on medieval literature

      Classen, Albrecht; Department of German Studies, University of Arizona (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-07-04)
      Much of medieval literature, irrespective of the genre, contains considerable criticism of the hero or protagonist. In fact, in many cases the narrator voices rather harsh condemnation of his or her main characters who often demonstrate a lack of rationality, fail to observe basic rules and laws, and tend to act rather foolishly. In a survey at first, this article illustrates the presence of this phenomenon in a number of European literary texts from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries. The focus of the present article, however, rests on the anonymous thirteenth-century Old French chanson de geste (or romance) Huon de Bordeaux. Here, more than in most other medieval narratives, the protagonist regularly rejects or disregards all concrete instructions, severe warnings, or commands and promptly runs into major problems. Although these contribute to the narrative development (more adventures), the critical analysis reveals, after all, a disturbingly negligent, irresponsible, and defiant character whose behavior might mirror profound social problems with late medieval knighthood and the political structure of that time.