Erec and Enide: geography of history

For the study of this text, Erec and Enide, we will use the edition of Jean-Marie Fritz, according to the manuscript BN. En 1376, The book de Poche, “Gothic Letters” No. 4526, 1992. Here is the sixth part of the study: Geography of the story.

erec and enide Geography of the story

The individual adventure becomes, in the novels of chivalry, the dominant characteristic of the knight - as opposed to the collective adventure of the songs of gesture. It will take, precisely from our novel, the form of wandering. Thus, v. 2761-2763, we are told:

      Departi are at some point
      Erec goes away, his famine in the least
      do not know which part, on an adventure

In reality, his "journey" takes the form of a series of round trips, the point of departure and arrival of which is the court of King Arthur, a place which is moreover not fixed, since the Court itself is located. moved continuously.

A journey, a journey

  • Starting point: King Arthur's court in Caradigan, and the surrounding forest
  • Laluth, where Érec defeats Ydier and wins the hawk
  • Return to King Arthur
  • Danebroc, the tournament
  • Carrant, place of "recreation"
  • The forest
  • Count Galoain's castle
  • Guivret castle
  • The forest (meeting Arthur's court, then the Giants)
  • The castle of the count of Limors
  • Pénuris, Guivret castle
  • Brandigan, the joy of the court
  • Return to Arthur's Court
  • Nantes, place of the coronation

The toponyms are more numerous in this novel than in all those which will follow; there are about 68 of them. But most of these names do not correspond to an actual location; the men of the Middle Ages were hardly interested in geography. Thus, the toponyms of Brandigan, Laluth, Limors do not have a referent in reality.

Other names can be identified: Caradigan is possibly Cardigan, au Wales, Danebroc would be Edinburgh, and of course Nantes.

But most of the names cited, especially in the enumerations, are purely imaginary. We have the impression of a great unreality, since Erec ends up in Great Britain without ever mentioning a boat crossing!

Stereotypical places

It will be necessary to wait until the end of the XVIIIth century so that the landscape begins to take on its own value; before it was only a decoration. And here the places are just mentioned, never described. They only have one function. The forest is the place of all bad encounters, dwarves, pillaging knights… The moor, a Breton reality, resembles it: it is there that Erec meets the Giants. The castle, finally, is the place of sociability (for the banquet and the tournament), where the hero must show his courtesy and his valor.

But these places are extremely general and undifferentiated; they are just stereotypes. Only two places are described with precision, and they are moreover related: the marvelous orchard (v. 5727-5778) and the castle of Brandigan which is contiguous to it (v. 5381-5407). But these are very special places, those of the ultimate test.

Juxtaposition of the real and the imaginary

The most glaring example is that of Brandigan: next to King Evrain's castle, presented as belonging to reality, is the marvelous orchard, with no solution of continuity. The Other World is therefore present, closely intertwined with ours.