Fruit and rot: Vegetal theology in Perceforest

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In the French prose romance Perceforest, an extended passage describes the Creator as a tree bearing the world’s creatures on its branches like fruit. The fruit draws nourishment from the tree as from a breast before coming to ripeness, falling to the ground, rotting, and eventually being resurrected in a new form. The imagery of fruit and rot evokes Eucharistic and alchemical traditions, suggesting a vegetal model of death and resurrection. In Perceforest, rot is an essential part of a cyclical cosmos, while bodies that refuse to rot are dangerous and must be destroyed. By purging the British forests of unrotted bodies, the hero Gallafur restores the vegetal cycle of decay and rebirth, and shows himself to be worthy of the throne.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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