The Occitan literary tradition of the later Middle Ages is a marginal and hybrid phenomenon, caught between the preeminence of French courtly romance and the emergence of Catalan literary prose. In this book, Catherine Léglu brings together, for the first time in English, prose and verse texts that are composed in Occitan, French, and Catalan-sometimes in a mixture of two of these languages. This book challenges the centrality of "canonical" texts and draws attention to the marginal, the complex, and the hybrid. It explores the varied ways in which literary works in the vernacular composed between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries narrate multilingualism and its apparent opponent, the mother tongue. Léglu argues that the mother tongue remains a fantasy, condemned to alienation from linguistic practices that were, by definition, multilingual. As most of the texts studied in this book are works of courtly literature, these linguistic encounters are often narrated indirectly, through literary motifs of love, rape, incest, disguise, and travel.Book Details
Enide’s tattered dress and Erec’s fabulous coronation robe; Yvain’s nudity in the forest, which prevents maidens who know him well clothed from identifying him; Lanval’s fairy-lady parading about in the Arthurian court, scantily dressed, for all to observe: just why is clothing so important in twelfth-century French romance? This interdisciplinary book explores how writers of this era used clothing as a signifier with multiple meanings for many narrative purposes. Clothing figured prominently in twelfth-century France, where exotic fabrics and furs came to define a social elite. Monica Wright shows that representations of clothing are not mere embellishments to the text; they help form the textual weave of the romances in which they appear. This book is about how these descriptions are constructed, what they mean, and how clothing becomes an active part of romance composition—the ways in which writers use it to develop and elaborate character, to advance or stall the plot, and to structure the narrative generally.Book Details
Philippe de Remi (1200/1210–65) holds a remarkable position in the legacy of the thirteenth-century literary world. A layman, landholder, and professional administrator, rather than a court poet or member of the clergy, Philippe de Remi wrote poems, songs, and long verse narratives that were grounded in his familiarity with the literary genres of his day. While Philippe paid homage to Chrétien de Troyes and other important secular writers of the period, his station in society and an intended audience of family and friends, not patrons, allowed him the freedom to treat courtly conventions with some independence and to explore human motivations across the social spectrum. Barbara Sargent-Baur brings to the modern English-speaking reader a translation of three of Philippe’s most important compositions: his two verse romances, Manekine and John and Blonde, as well as his single short verse tale, “Foolish Generosity.” This volume gathers the first English stand-alone prose translations of these romances, which have been previously published only as line-by-line versions facing the Old French originals. Sargent-Baur’s English translation of “Foolish Generosity” is the first rendering from Old French in any language. These important translations allow increased access to Philippe de Remi’s attractive narrative works, expanding their audience beyond an Old French readership to the wider academic community.Book Details
What is love? Popular culture bombards us with notions of the intoxicating capacities of love or of beguiling women who can bewitch or heal—to the point that it is easy to believe that such images are timeless and universal. Not so, argues Laine Doggett in Love Cures. Aspects of love that are expressed in popular music—such as “love is a drug,” “sexual healing,” and “love potion number nine”—trace deep roots to Old French romance of the high Middle Ages. A young woman heals a poisoned knight. A mother prepares a love potion for a daughter who will marry a stranger in a faraway land. How can readers interpret such events? In contrast to scholars who have dismissed these women as fantasy figures or labeled them “witches,” Doggett looks at them in the light of medical and magical practices of the high Middle Ages. Love Cures argues that these practitioners, as represented in romance, have shaped modern notions of love. Love Cures seeks to engage scholars of love, marriage, and magic in disciplines as diverse as literature, history, anthropology, and philosophy.
Christine de Pizan, one of the earliest known women authors, wrote the Livre de paix (Book of Peace) between 1412 and 1414, a period of severe corruption and civil unrest in her native France. The book offered Pizan a platform from which to expound her views on contemporary politics and to put forth a strict moral code to which she believed all governments should aspire. The text's intended recipient was the dauphin, Louis of Guyenne; Christine felt that Louis had the political and social influence to fill a void left by years of incompetent leadership. Drawing in equal parts from the Bible and from classical ethical theory, the Livre de paix was revolutionary in its timing, viewpoint, and content.
This volume, edited by Karen Green, Constant J. Mews, and Janice Pinder, boasts the first full English translation of Pizan's work along with the original French text. The editors also place the Livre de paix in historical context, provide a brief biography of Pizan, and offer insight into the translation process.