The Rose and Geryon
The Poetics of Fraud and Violence in Jean de Meun and Dante
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Quote
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When I began writing my PhD dissertation under the direction of Marian Papahagi, a renowned scholar of Romance languages, I could not foresee that I would eventually finish my dissertation, but not the same one, and not with the same director. The premature death of Marian Papahagi put an end to my dream of becoming a Romance philologist but, at the same time, opened for me venues that I had never envisioned before. The intellectual...
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As early as the fifteenth century, readers of Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose and Dante’s Divine Comedy compared the two poetic narratives, discovering striking resemblances between them and highlighting a common concern with human vices as the primary link between the two poems. Christine de Pizan (1365–ca. 1434) and Laurent de Premierfait (ca. 1380– 1418) were the first to comment on the two works from a comparative perspective,...
1. The Verbal Sin as a Cultural Construct
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The notion of an indissoluble relationship between language and divinity is as ancient as the Old Testament, according to which the universe began as a response to God’s verbal command. Language thus was as miraculous as Creation itself. The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation further elaborated this idea and posited the notion of Christ as the embodied Word. Since ordinary humans were endowed with the gift of speech as well, for...
2. From Jean De Meun’s Multidiscursive Dispersal to Dante’s System of Sins
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The epigraph reads: “In the things that are written, clerks see, with proved, reasonable and demonstrated information, all the evil from which one should withdraw and all the good things that one can do. He sees all things of the world written down, just as they are done and said. In the lives of the ancients he sees the villainies of the villains, all the deeds of the courteous men, the summae of all courtesies.” This passage is inserted in Nature’s discourse...
3. Lingua Dolosa, “The Guileful Tongue” : Speaking under the Sign of Fraud
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In the Middle Ages, the popular attitude toward guile was highly ambivalent, oscillating between admiration for the cunning intelligence of the trickster, as depicted by the fabliaux, and reprobation of the moral act proper. The shade of admiration inherent in the popular perception does not subsist, however, in the ethical tracts on which I base my critical endeavor. Alain of Lille, who in his works systematically confronts the complex...
4. Blasphemy and the Poetics of Violence
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“Et plus puni devroient estre / devant l’empereour celestre / Clerc qui s’abandonent as vices, / Que les genz lais, simples et nices, / Qui n’ont pas les vertuz escriptes, / Que cil tienent vils et despites” (Roman de la Rose 18667–73).1 In the previous chapters I have detailed the ways in which, under the cover of the personages he impersonates, Jean challenges the ideological and linguistic conventions of his time. Through the agency of Faus Semblant,...
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In the preceding chapters, I sought to bring to the fore those features of the Romance of the Rose and the Divine Comedy that show the degree to which literary culture in the vernacular was sensitive to the animated medieval debate on peccata linguae. In their own specific ways, both poems laid claim to offering moral lessons about the usage of language. The reading of these poems through the lenses of the medieval ethicists of speech has highlighted ...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2014