The Invention of the Eyewitness: Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France
In an examination of eyewitness travel writing in thirteenth- through sixteenth-century France, Andrea Frisch studies the figure of the witness at a historical juncture and in a cultural context in which that figure is generally thought to have begun to assume a recognizably modern form and function.
Whereas most accounts of early modern travel literature tend to read modern presuppositions about witnessing and testimony back into the material, Frisch approaches the early modern witness in terms of the cultural legacy of the Middle Ages. Through primary readings in law and theology, Frisch documents the tension between the ethical witness (the characteristic witness of premodernity) and the epistemic witness (the modern witness) and explores the impact of that tension on the figure of the witness in pre- and early modern French-language travel literature.
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Always the observer , never the participant , Mandeville sees the East without
taking it in , since he apparently remains impervious to eastern influences . The
many exotic alphabets Mandeville transcribes are emblematic in this regard :
The triumphant conquest of the Almyrodes is never actually reported – much less
described in any detail – by our intrepid narrator . Indeed , Alcofribas gives
absolutely no information about Pantagruel ' s final battle . Instead , the hero
It is important to note , however , that the language of signs is not characterized in
this scene as a primitive tool of last resort – the narrator never suggests that the
exchange he reports , nor his report itself , are compromised by the non - verbal ...