The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Finlayson, John. "The Form of the Middle English Lay." 19 (1985): 352-68.
Few Middle English texts can claim to be lays, works modelled on the Breton lays of Marie de France. Generally, lays are "set in Brittany, concern love, and have a functional magical element" (361), though lays vary substantially between themselves. The similarities between Sir Degare, Le Freine, and Sir Orfeo, particularly in word choice may result from a joint author-translator. Examination of the works claiming to be lays--the Franklin's Tale, Erl of Tolous, Sir Launfal, Emaré, and Sir Gowther--shows that they can be divided into two types, but that the later works modify the form of the lay considerably.
Marchalonis, Shirley. "Sir Gowther: The Process of a Romance." 6 (1971): 14-29.
The variation of narrative elements which comprise Sir Gowther allows readers to see in it the stages in which traditional material may develop into a romance. The tale of Robert le Devuil is quite similar to Sir Gowther, and comparison of specific scenes demonstrates the increasing influence of chivalry as the romance gains more symbolism and presents allusions that a more educated, aristocratic audience would appreciate. When examined in light of Vladimir Propp's morphological patterns, however, Robert le Devuil seems closest to folklore roots. Finally, Sir Gowther is a complex system of tests and rewards which initiate a young man into society.