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Reviews Jeanette beer, Beasts ofLove: Richardde Fournival's Bestiaire d'amouranda Woman's Response. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. Pp x, 214. isbn: 0—80203612 —0. $50. Characteristic ofthe courtly culture ofthe thirteenth and fourteenth century was a love of complexity, of multiple allusions, of games, and of wordplay. Richard de Fournival's Bestiare d'amour typifies this passion for ambiguity and complexity. The Bestiaire is an elaborately self referential and rich work that provides a view of love as the ovetthrow ofreason by passion; a tale told through 'parole et painture.' Each 'beast' presents a different aspect oflove or passion, and is illustrated by illuminations of the wide variety of animals referenced. In recent yeats, much has been written about the uses of animals to represent the passions, vices, or other human characteristics, and theit role in revealing to us something about the medieval understanding of human psychology as well as the sexual mores of the era. The lavishly illuminated Bestiaire lends itself to this kind ofstudy. An evaluation ofthe work's reception by its audience is aided by the Response, a challenge presented to its misogynistic views from the pen ofa late thirteenth-century woman. Jeanette Beer, currently Professor of French at Purdue University, has written extensively on this ttadition, and has prepared translations ofboth the Bestiaire and The Response (1986; West Lafayette; 2000). The present work is a slim but densely argued explication ofthe Bestiary's position and ofthe critique found in the Response. The work is richly illustrated with fine teptoductions from the fourteenth-century manuscript, MS Douce 308. Beer's work is divided into six chapters, ofwhich the first four arc on the text of the Bestiaire. Chapter One, 'Love and Reason,' essentially discusses the well-worn theme ofthe sabotage ofreason by love. ChapterTwo, 'Love and the Senses,' evaluates Richard's lament on his role as victim, and Chapter Three discusses the presentation of possible remedies for Richard's plight. The most important remedy available to him is, very predictably, foresight, or prudence. Chapter Four, 'Love for Women,' stresses the metaphor of love as war, complete with pleas for mercy. The love of women, like warfare, cannot bring satisfaction to Richard. By Chapter Five, Beer has turned to an assessment of the Response. This short work is enigmatic, since neither the name of the author, nor even the date of the work are known. Beer speculates about these issues, describes the extant manuscripts, and finally summarizes its themes. In Chaptet Six, she discusses the legacy ofRichard's work in latet litetaty developments. While the scholarship is excellent within the very narrow scope the author has defined for herself, this work has several significant flaws. First, the genre of the ARTHURIANA 15.2(2005) 64 REVIEWS65 work, the bestiary itself, is a fascinating one, and Beer's expertise could have allowed much more discussion and evaluation of the gente as a whole. Where does the Bestiaire fit in to its tradition? Its rather shop worn views had an audience: who was it and why? What were its authot's sources? More development ofthe context ofthe work and discussion of its antecedents would have been useful and welcome. While these aspects may have been addressed in Beer's other wotks (she refers to them in notes), they are essential to her explication here, and their absence is notable and weakens both the utility and the interest of the work as a whole. Secondly, while 'parole et painture' is an important concept and the reproductions are very nicely handled by the publisher, rhere is no real explanation of analysis of the images. What is their context vis-à-vis the written text? Are all the 'beasts' illusttated? Are thete anomalies, exclusions, novel iconographies? A work so lavishly illuminated deserves to have its 'painture' taken as seriously as its 'parole,' in part, as art historian Robert Calkins has often pointed out, because the manuscript was intended to be experienced as a whole, senatum. The manuscript authot had it illuminated and went to considerable expense to do so. Why? What is the role of the images? What was the social and cultural role of the recipient? How and in what...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 64-65
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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