Fathers and Daughters

Elizabeth Archibald

in Incest and the Medieval Imagination

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780198112099
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191708497 | DOI:
Fathers and Daughters

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Father-daughter incest was a disturbingly popular motif in medieval literature; it is the most common form of incest in extended medieval narratives. The oldest version is the late classical Apollonius of Tyre, popular throughout the Middle Ages and dramatized by Shakespeare as Pericles. Brief exemplary versions usually involve consummated incest, and the father dies damned. In longer narratives, the daughter usually escapes in time, sometimes minus a hand; after many vicissitudes, she may be reconciled with her father at the end, as well as with her estranged husband. The main example here is Beaumanoir's La Manekine. The mutilation motif is discussed; both it and the adventures of a daughter fleeing from incest are rare in classical literature. It is suggested that the victimized daughter may be an allegory of Christian Virtue in a fallen world; medieval writers seem more interested in the heroine's adventures than in drawing morals from the initial incest.

Keywords: father-daughter incest; Apollonius of Tyre; Shakespeare; Pericles; La Manekine; mutilation; Christian Virtue

Chapter.  21325 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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