The fifteenth-century French prose romance Perceforest portrays the relationship between the king and his forests in terms of both control and intimacy. The king's legitimacy arises from his ability to civilize the forests and regulate their resources, yet in another sense he himself is the forest. Both the eponymous king Perceforest and his great-nephew and heir Gallafur experience dream visions in which their subjectivities appear in vegetal form: Perceforest's depressive mental state manifests itself as an overgrown forest landscape, while Gallafur sees his body become tree-like. A reading of these visions suggests an ecology of kingship, in which proper governance, land management, and licit sexuality are all interconnected. At the same time, the visions resonate with recent strains of ecological thought, notably dark ecology and queer ecology. Encountering himself as a “strange stranger” within the dream landscape, the king experiences his mystical body in vegetal terms.
The King's Tree Body: The Taming of the Wilderness and the Ecology of Kingship in Perceforest
Brooke Heidenreich Findley; The King's Tree Body: The Taming of the Wilderness and the Ecology of Kingship in Perceforest. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2016; 46 (2): 233–262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-3491786
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