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The Feelings in the Feud: The Emotional Turn in the Study of Medieval Vengeance

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Chapter Summary

This chapter questions whether one can emphasize the emotional dimension of feuds and ignore their legal, political, and economic dimensions without implicitly primitivizing this practice; and whether one can posit that the emotional impulse to take revenge is built into human brain without espousing what Marshall Sahlins has called the position of "vulgar sociobiology" that "innate human drives and dispositions.are realized in social institutions of a corresponding character". It examines recent work on feuding by Paul R. Hyams and studies of vengeance by Richard W. Kaeuper and Daniel Lord Smail, all of whom claim that emotional impulse to avenge wrongs is the cause of feuding and vengeance-killings, and suggests that this impulse is innate to humans. It shows that their arguments are undercut by close readings of two literary texts, La mort le roi Artu, the final section of Lancelot- Grail Cycle, and Raoul de Cambrai, a chanson de geste.

Keywords: economic dimensions; emotional dimension; feud; La mort le roi Artu; Lancelot- Grail Cycle; Paul R. Hyams; revenge; Richard W. Kaeuper; vengeance



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