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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER more recognition of opposite views, to be persuasive. Because of Minnis's obvious learning and intelligence, the reader will learn much from this book about medieval ideas of pagan antiquity, but he may also be left feeling that only part of Chaucer's relation to the subject has been adequately explored. C. D. BENSON University of Connecticut BERNARD O'DONOGHUE, The Courtly Love Tradition. Literature in Context Series. Manchester: Manchester University Press; Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble Books, 1982. Pp. vi, 314. $25.00 cloth; $8.95 paper. This is an anthology of translated lyrics, theoretical writings, and excerpted romances on secular medieval amatory themes. The pas­ sages from Dante as well as all the lyrics are accompanied by the original texts, while those of other genres are not. Many of the translations are the author's; the rest include the familiar versions of Parry, Comfort, Nykl, Hatto, and Dahlberg. The texts where pro­ vided are those that have been established in editions by Helen Waddell, Istvan Frank, A. R. Press, Olive Sayce, R. T. Hill and T. G. Bergin, Carl von Kraus, S. A. Barbi, and others. Bernard O'Donoghue, who teaches English at Oxford, states his purpose in various parts of the volume, as here: "to provide readers of English with a fairly broad sample of the love poetry that comes under the heading of courtly love, to provide a background for English works which drew on that tradition." He believes that his choice of texts should "enable readers to assess the conventionalism, originality or deliberateness in the use of courtly love elements by English writers." References to Chaucer are liberally sprinkled throughout (though they are not easy to find); there is also passing mention of Gower, Malory, the metaphysical poets, Lovelace, Yeats,Joyce, and T. S. Eliot. 208 REVIEWS The volume's nineteen-page Introduction is admirably succinct, but so much so that only a little space can be given to each ofthe six sections it comprises: "The Use of the Term 'Courtly Love"'; "His­ tory ofthe Literature"; "The Background ofIdeas"; "Application to Later Medieval Literature"; "The Texts Included," and a paragraph on translations. The Introduction relies to some extent on the reader's acquaintance with the schools and quarrels that have arisen over the thorny matter of courtly love. The author maintains, however, that the term is viable insofar as it expresses "qualities in common" among continental lyrics and romances ofthe twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He does call attention to an important distinc­ tion between the two courtly styles. The one is the sly, procedural approach, often disparaging to women, that one finds in Ovid (sometimes), Andreas, andJean de Meun; the other is the exalting mystique of love that is reminiscent of the Neoplatonists and Au­ gustine and that reaches its flowering with the stzlnovisti. The distinction is cautionary for those readers who have been taught to regard the sardonic "De arte honeste amandi" as synonymous with "courtly love," an understandable error in view of its misleadingly translated title. The Introduction furthermore unravels elements in the development ofcourtly lyric: the psyche ofthe poet, the formal preoccupations, the abstraction ofideas, religiousterminology, and the naturalism, seen, for example, in the rather broad, uncourtly dorfspoesie of later German lyric. The diffusion of the several aspects ofcourtliness is attributed to the popularity ofthe Arthurian and Tristan legends, as well as to the highly procedural Roman de la Rose. Regarding courtly love, then, as "the central poetic tradition of the Middle Ages," O'Donoghue indicates what the anthology will and will not do. He is not interested in tracing the origins ofcourtly love, for these have been thoroughly explored and discussed else­ where, most notably in R. Boase's The Origins and Meaning of Courtly Love (1977). Nor does he propose to investigate courtly love as a social, feudal, economic, or religious manifestation. He takes issue with what he considers the scholarly emphasis in some quarters on too singleminded an approach: D. W. Robertson's insistence on reading courtly texts ironically, E. Talbot Donaldson's preference 209 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER for "sublimation," and C. S. Lewis's dwelling on "adultery." Music...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 208-213
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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