This article makes a plea for the performative analysis of literary, non-dramatic texts from the Middle Ages. In a performative analysis the realization (through reading or recitation) of a text is analyzed from a theatrical point of view. In addition the text itself is considered to be a script of a performance, which provokes primary affects and reactions from its audience. This article offers a performative reading of the first allegory of the Gruuthuse manuscript. Because of its allegorical nature, performative aspects should receive careful attention. After all, everything characters in an allegory see, hear and do (objects, sounds and actions) is potentially meaningful. Though the performative qualities of the first allegory were recognized by some literary historians, they have never been fully accounted for. Several interpretations, both old and new, are evaluated. It turns out that the first allegory confronts its contemporary audience with a slightly ridiculed version of itself, i.e. with a social company that composes and enjoys love songs. At the same time this company functions as a metaphor for a loving and beloved woman. The performative aspects highly stimulate this interpretation (or experience) of the text.
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