Continuity and Discontinuity: Illuminating and Interlacing the Adventures of Viviane and Merlin in the Prose Merlin
Marginalia, Vol. 3 (2006)
In the Estoire de Merlin, Viviane and Merlin’s love affair is illustrated and narrated intermittently through the use of manuscript illumination and the technique of interlace, with formulas indicating a change in the characters and/or in the spatiotemporal situation, allowing the narrative to switch from one episode to another and to return to previous sections. The text originates in 13th-century Old French manuscripts and was translated into the Middle English Prose Merlin in the 15th century. The story of Robert de Boron and, more precisely, the Suite Vulgate section, or Vulgate Sequel, which treats events leading to the final imprisonment or “enserrement” of Merlin, is punctuated by these rendez-vous. They are patterned along similar lines and contrast with the more usual succession of battle scenes and political episodes in the romance.