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THE BELOVED LADY IN MEDIEVAL GALICIAN-PORTUGUESE AND OCCITAN LYRIC POETRY William D. Paden Northwestern University Studies of the beloved lady in medieval Galician-Portuguese lyric poetry have contrasted that figure sharply widi the corresponding one in the poetry of the Occitan troubadours.1 In an influential article on the terms dona and senhor in die cantigas de amor, Mercedes Brea posited that the lady in Occitan poetry was an aristocrat, an authentic feudal lady or the wife of a feudal lord, and always married, but found that the same features cannot be deduced from die lyric corpus in Galician-Portuguese, where the lady's noble origin is implicit in very few cases and she is explicitly married only occasionally. Usually nothing in die context allows us to suppose one tiling or die odier (Mercedes Brea, 167-68). María del Carmen Pallares Méndez followed Brea in a study of the lives of women in medieval Galicia (32), referring for Occitan to the historian Georges Duby: Georges Duby sintetiza así o esquema do amor cortés: "Un personaxe feminino ocupa o centro do cadrò. E unha 'dama'. O termo derivado do latín domina, significa que esta muller ocupa unha posición dominante e, asemade, define a súa situación: está casada". (31)2 1 I shall identify texts in Galician-Portuguese by reference to Lirica profana galegoportuguesa , abbreviated LP, and quote from that edition. I shall identify Occitan texts by reference to Pillet and Carstens, abbreviated as P-C, with reference to the edition I have used. - Pallares Méndez does not identify' the source ofthe quotation in Duby. The gist of it recurs in his characterization of "l'amour que l'on dit courtois": "Voici la figure: un homme, un 'jeune'.... Cet homme assiège, dans l'intention de la prendre, une dame. Ea corónica 32.2 (Spring, 2004): 69-84 70William D. PadenLa corónica 32.2, 2004 Vicenç Beitran has drawn a similar contrast between the lady of the cantiga de a?nor and die lady in Occitan: Se comparámo-la descrición da dama coa dos seus modelos provenzais resulta, pois, notablemente emprobrecida. Desapareceron tódolos componentes físicos e substituíronse por substantivos abstractos, cun feixe de cualificativos de carácter intensificador. Pero son outras moitas as cousas que desaparecen do ámbito textual da cantiga, por exemplo o estado civil da dama cantada. (29) For Beltran there is evidendy no doubt diat die Occitan troubadours were explicit about die lady's civil status.3 These specialists in Galician-Portuguese make die contrast widi Occitan without extending their scrutiny to the texts in that language, relying instead on specialists in Occitan, or a historian and generalist like Duby, who in turn relies on Occitan specialists before him. Aldiough diis procedure is perfecdy reasonable, it neverdieless entails die risk that if diese scholars in Galician-Portuguese had examined the Occitan texts diemselves with die same open-mindedness diey bring to dieir own field, they might have found something different. They might, in fact, have found that the evidence for die identity of die beloved woman -eiuier her civil status, her personal appearance, her personality, or indeed any characteristics by which she might be recognized or known- in Occitan is surprisingly like the evidence in Galician-Portuguese/ The opinion represented by Duby is widespread, of course, but it has never been uncontested. As early as 1896 Joseph Bédier argued that troubadour songs are really so vague as to apply to all die situac 'est-à-dire une femme mariée, par conséquent inaccessible". On the preceding page Duby acknowledges that this form oflove "est d'abord un objet littéraire", and adds, "je n'ai, de ces formes littéraires, qu'une connaissance, sije puis dire, seconde" (Duby, 74-75). 3 One could add Pichel (33-35), Vilhena, and others. 4 Heur prefaces his study ofthe "Portrait de la dame" by contrasting Galician-Portuguese poetry with lyric in Medieval Latin, Occitan, Italian and French, all ofwhich he characterizes with "la classique et traditionnelle descriptio mulieris" (439). Heur refers to the work ofBruyne and Spina. Bruyne (2: 1 73-202) surveys the work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 69-84
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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