Claire Chi-ah Lyu Flaubert's "La légende de saint Julien l'Hospitalier" presents a conundrum: how are the readers of 21st-century post-modernity to approach a text of 19th-century modernity, which tells a hagiographic legend of the Middle Ages? The difficulty stems from the immense distance that separates the medieval hagiographic genre from Flaubert's modern style. Hagiography's principal purpose was to renew and deepen faith and incite readers to live a Christian life by producing an affective response, considered to be the first step in the process of conversion. It sought "the complete conversion of intelligence into feeling (affectus) and action (opus)" as Robertson writes (Saints' Lives 14). In the eleventh and twelfth centuries when "adult conversion [was] of essence to all religious movements," saints' lives "serve[d] as recruitment propaganda" for the church, which was "actively reaching out to the laity" (13). More than anything, saints' lives were to be imitated.1 Through the injunction to follow in the footsteps of saints, hagiography brought the readers to the original model one was to imitate: the passion of Christ. Telling and reading a hagiographic tale amounted to accompanying Jesus through his birth, death, and resurrection through empathetic participation. Saints' lives guided the readers
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jan 29, 2011
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