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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Of course , one is always forced to rely on a narrator ' s vision of a fictional world ;
the chroniques , however , do not betray a consciousness of this fact . In
Pantagruel , we are invited to take cognizance of Alcofribas ' s perspective ...
tor sees ; the perspective of that narrator is thus never problematized , is in fact
never really constituted as a perspective . It is simply a transparent window onto a
fictional world . Alcofribas ' s narrative perspective , by contrast , is positioned as ...
The epistemic perspective of the individual is never integrated into the broader
ethical world posited by most of the book ... struggle to articulate a perspective
that is simultaneously individual and particular , yet sanctioned by a community .