Hyonjin Kim.  Sword in the Middle: The Iconography of Courtly Love in the Arthurian Romance    page(s): 215-230


 The iconography of two lovers embracing each other in an unnatural yet symbolic fashion recurs in the medieval French Arthurian romances.especially, those in which the idea of courtly love is preserved in its purest form. There is a striking resemblance between the arrangement of Tristan and Iseut’s sleeping bodies in Béroul’s Roman de Tristan and the picture of a knight and a lady painted on the split shield sent by the Lady of the Lake in the Prose Lancelot, which are reproduced, again with an uncanny resemblance, by the famous illustration of Lancelot and Guinevere kissing each other in an early-fourteenth-century manuscript of the Prose Lancelot. This iconography marvelously sums up the modus operandi of medieval courtly love at its best, which at once mobilizes and forecloses the sexuality of both man and woman for the sake of feudal ideology.