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, « lettres gothiques » n° 4526, 1992. Voici la première partie de l’étude : la conjointure.
A two-part structure
As often with Chrétien de Troyes, the novel is divided into two parts:
- The conquest of Enidus, the adventure of the "young man" and a triumph which turns out to be a factitious one: the hero sinks into "recess", forgetting the chivalrous ideal;
- Marriage, adventures, crowning: it is the adventure of the "courteous knight"; this adventure is redoubled by the transformation of Énidus, who does not receive her name until around 2027 (p. 172), and then becomes the "lady" par excellence.
this bi-partite structure, which we find in Cligès, the Knight with the lion, the Knight with the cart, and the Tale of the Grail. It is not reserved for Chrétien's novels: we find it, for example, in the Novel of Éneas. This astonishing structural analogy will eventually appear to be consubstantial with the romantic genre, and to be found in modern novels, such as the Red and the Black Where Madame Bovary.
The first part tells of an easy conquest, where the individual first seeks his own realization, and individual happiness; the second, often longer, goes beyond the individual and makes him a person, member and instrument of society. This structure perhaps comes from the Aeneid, and from the symbolic interpretation given by Bernard Sylvestre in the 12thth century: the "easy" and purely individual conquest of Dido succeeds the conquest of Lavinia, and of Italy, and the building of an empire ...
The first part, or "primerains vers"
This first part does not include the marriage: it stops with the presentation of Énide to the court: it is the triumph of the young woman, recognized first lady of the Court (after the queen Guinevere), and that of Érec, finally become a true knight, provided with a friend, and second Knight of the court, after Gauvain, the “perfect knight”.
The second part: the reconquest and the surpassing of oneself.
Marriage belongs to this second part; Far from Chrétien's novel being an apology for marriage, it appears here as an obstacle to chivalry. In fact, as soon as they are married, the two young people abandon themselves to individual happiness; Énidus is no longer the "lady" to be conquered and deserved, but the "woman", the "friend", the "lover" already acquired; Érec falls asleep in "recreation", that is to say forgetting what he was born for: adventure, weapons, combat. And his friends are sorry.
Enid is the first to notice it, and it is she who wakes up - literally as well as figuratively - her husband by revealing to him what is said about him; there is therefore neither misunderstanding between the lovers, nor crisis of their love; but this very love must be overcome, Erech must reconquer his "lady" (and this one must again become a "lady").
This is the "adventure" departure: Énidus plays a unique role in chivalrous literature. Neither an isolated virgin to save, nor a "lady" commanding the trials but remaining in the castle, she accompanies Énide and rides in front of him, in her finery.
Four events are then linked:
- the three pillaging knights
- The five knights
- Count Galoain
- Violent outcome
- The meeting of Guivret le Petit
This middle part ends with the meeting of the Court of King Arthur.
But Erech could not remain at court: he is no longer recreational, but he's not yet a perfect knight. Until then, he had only endured his adventures and found himself. He must now go further.
The Knight in the service of others
The clumsy Keu, then Gauvain, and finally the whole Court, showed Érec which path he must take: he must now go out to meet others, and show the same solidarity: the meeting of the Court is therefore for him. a new starting point.
here, it will no longer be separate adventures that add up, but a logical continuation - and in decrescendo.
- Rescue of a virgin and her friend attacked by giants: the height of bestiality;
- Rescue of Énide attacked by Count Oringle de Limors, who odiously takes advantage of Erec's wound: here bestiality is above all moral;
- Rescue of Énide mistakenly attacked by Guivret, who did not recognize the couple: here no more bestiality at all.
"This series of adventures made him a new being, ended up leading him back to the one from whom he had thought it necessary to separate, revealed to him the true meaning of his love which is not enjoyment, but self-sacrifice. same. It is by deviating from his path that he finds this path again, it is by moving away from his love to push to the gates of the beyond, that he finds this love in its highest point. meaning. " (Bezzola, op. cit. cf. Bibliography, p. 183).
We could therefore consider that the story of Erec ends here; but after having recovered his health and rediscovered the "perfect love" of his lady, the knight must still find the Court. It will be the ultimate adventure, this time concentrated in a single episode: the Joy of the Court.
The Joy of the Court.
On the way to the Court stands the fortress of Brandigan, protected by a rushing river. And this castle offers the knight the supreme challenge, an adventure whose very name is a call: the JOY OF THE COURT.
This adventure has 4 very unequal parts:
- The welcome of King Evrain (176 verses)
- The King leads Erec to the orchard (70 verses)
- The enchanted orchard (88 verses)
- The conquest of Joy. (583 verses)
No sooner had he heard the name of the adventure when Erech knew in a flash that it represented what he had always sought: joy. From then on, nothing could prevent him from going to seek her (v. 5463-5464). He had thought he had found her when he had beaten Ydier, but that was not the real joy: indeed, he lost her by sinking into "recreating". Now, after seven years of hardship, he can finally find her.
This adventure echoes the first, experienced by Erec: at the beginning of the novel, he had defeated the knight Ydier, who fought for a haughty lady: Ydier had obtained forgiveness for his pride by surrendering, after his defeat, to the King Arthur. Here, a powerful knight, Mabonagrain, bound by an imprudent promise to the exclusive service of his lady, will be delivered by the victory of Erec, and returned to the court of Evrain, and to the role he was to play there.
And it's up to Erec to reveal the mystery of this adventure. From the start he appears as an “angel of light” in front of which the young girls cross themselves (v. 5499): for the first time, the hero will not only fight for himself, but for the whole community. .
King Evrain leads Erec to the orchard: the symbolic meaning of adventure then becomes clear to him. this is how Reto Bezzola interprets it (op. cit. p. 215):
"The" joy of the court "presents in short the great adventure of life, which he has witnessed since the beginning of the novel. This life with its enchantment is surrounded by an invisible wall, one could only enter it by flying like birds, without being caught in it, or else dressed in iron, ready for any attack and adversity. The enchanted life presents itself first of all with all the charms that rejoice the soul and the body, but we can only enjoy it by staying in life, the fruits of life are attached to life, whoever wants them to carry will not find the path which will take him out of the adventure in which he has embarked. Now, this adventure, after the delights of its first appearance, of its first verse, soon displays all that it involves that is dangerous and terrible. We only conquer life at the risk of death. But the one who finally wins over the opposing forces will not only have conquered his own Joy; his Joy will be the Joy of the Court. It is the horn that will announce this glory, but no one has succeeded in sounding it so far. "
But it is from Enidus, with whom he is now reconciled, that he draws the strength to conquer; she has become the "sweet lady", both near and far; and for the first time he separates from her.
Bien sûr, Érec vainc le chevalier géant, prisonnier de la promesse faite à sa dame. Un chevalier très beau, mais que sa trop grande taille, marque de sa démesure, enlaidit ; un chevalier vêtu d’une armure vermeille, dont l’amour n’est donc pas le véritable amour courtois. Et celle qu’il aime, son « amie », n’est pas non plus une dame. Tous deux se sont exclus de la Cour. Et Mabonagrain (en Celtic « fils d’Evrain ») n’a même pas vraiment de nom !
Érec, champion of the Court, therefore delivered Mabonagrain and made him return to the Court. Likewise, Énidus allows his cousin to integrate into the Court, but without lifting her anonymity: she will remain the “cousin of Énidus”.
The return of Erech and Aenidus
After three days, new departure of the knight, his lady and his companion Guivret, but this time in joy. The trip lasts nine days, unhindered.
- By leaving, Erec conquered the "recreating"; he became a knight again.
- Then he came to the aid of the Maid of the Forest: he put his valor at the service of others.
- his meeting with Guivret taught him companionship, and strengthened his moral ties with chivalry.
- Finally, the ultimate test of “court joy” showed him that there is still something beyond companionship.
A perfect knight, he can now reach the supreme step: to become King. And this will be the crowning of the novel, the crowning not of Erec alone, but of the couple Erec and Enid, henceforth inseparable.