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PhD Project: Merlin in Translation - The "discours" of the Merlin Romances across Europe

This dissertation project by Carina Becker will encompass a detailed comparative analysis of selected Merlin romances. It will show that the many innovations surrounding the character of Merlin and the plotlines of the texts in which he features (histoire) go hand in hand with innovations in the narrative arrangement of the texts (discours). Taking the Old French Roman du Merlin en prose as its starting point, the analysis will go on to focus on the two Merlin continuations, namely the Suite-Vulgate du Merlin and the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, and a selection of their translations, including the Middle English Of Arthour and of Merlin, the anonymous Prose Merlin, and Lovelich’s Merlin; the Middle Dutch Boek van Merline and the Merlijncontinuatie, the medieval Italian Storia di Merlino, and the Old Castillian Baladro del sabio Merlin.

In doing so, the project will address the following research questions:

-     how is plot realised on the level of discours, and how does this affect the genre of the respective texts?

-    how are Merlin’s character and his interactions with other characters realised on the level of discours in the respective texts, and how does this influence his insertion into different narrative surroundings?

-     how are the changes to plot and character reflected on the discours level of the translations? What overarching principles, methods and external influences on the individual translators can be deduced from those changes?

By addressing these key questions in such a broad selection of texts, this dissertation project will further develop current scholarly debate on the Merlin tradition, while contributing a new comparative perspective on the discours of the Merlin romances. The project will, furthermore, call into question previous assumptions about the genre of the Merlin romances and Merlin’s status as protagonist within them.

supervisor: Prof. Dr. Miriam Edlich-Muth

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