Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kevin Poole Interviewed on YouTube

Kevin Poole was recently interviewed by Yale University’s Marilyn Wilkes for “The MacMillan Report” on his recent English edition of The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin. Dr. Poole reviews the story of Pseudo-Turpin, his translation and his analysis. He discusses his interest in the work for teaching and research and stresses the importance of such works in the Compostela and Roland cycles in the context of Christian-Muslim relations.

Poole notes that, while completely fictitious, the text was presented as a genuine work from the circle of Charlemagne, making broad truth claims as an eyewitness account to Crusade history. Its author surrounded his tale with the authority of Charlemagne’s life and reign, noting that the hundreds of copies produced in the Middle Ages — both in Latin and in various vernaculars — only reinforced and broadened its popularity through its local and national variations. Its appeal was thus both historical and fictitious, linking the lives and aspirations of its audience to its sacred, secular and mythical histories.

Poole and Wilkes discuss the manuscript tradition, the identification and use of the original version in Compostela’s Codex Calixtinus, and the popularity of Compostela itself and the medieval and modern pilgrimage to that sacred site. They talk about the history of the manuscript, its recent theft and recovery, access to the book, modern research methods and the text’s various transcriptions and modern translations.

Why is the story important today? Again Poole stresses the history of Crusade and Jihad, their ideological underpinnings, and modern variations on such thought systems. Historical analysis, Poole argues, can trace the origins of such beliefs and thus better understand our own contemporary actions and discourse. Poole’s book is also an important reflection on the uses and abuses of history in the past and today.

It’s a delightful twenty-minute conversation on YouTube. Take a look!