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  • La Poésie lyrique du Moyen Âge au Nord de la France (en annexe: France et Italie). Études choisies par Friedrich Wolfzettel
  • Huw Grange
La Poésie lyrique du Moyen Âge au Nord de la France (en annexe: France et Italie).Études choisies. Par Friedrich Wolfzettel. (Nouvelle Bibliothèque du Moyen Âge, 113.) Paris: Honoré Champion, 2015. 362 pp.

'Originality' may not be the first word that springs to mind in relation to medieval French lyric. After all, the northern French trouvères of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries have traditionally been eclipsed in scholarship by the troubadours, the northerners' 'prétendue uniformité "formelle"' (p. 7) deemed no match for the southerners' formal fireworks. Similarly, France's late medieval rhétoriqueurs, steeped in the conventions of courtliness, have sometimes been outshone by the more overtly 'modern' poets of the Italian Renaissance. 'Originality', however, is the watchword of this anthology of twenty articles by Friedrich Wolfzettel. And as this selection of scholarship initially published between 1980 and 2011 testifies, Wolfzettel has been steadfast in his aim of demonstrating the originality of Old and Middle French lyric poets, both in relation to other linguistic traditions and to each other. The volume is divided into three parts. The first ('Les Trouvères') opens with five articles, each devoted to one or two major early lyric poets (the likes of Thibaut de Champagne and Adam de La Halle). There follow three pieces of a more broadly thematic bent, dealing with the pastourelle, religious poetry, and the representation of urban space. Wolfzettel pays sustained attention here to the Grand Chant's evolution as its social function changes with the shift from courtly to bourgeois settings. The structure of Part Two ('La Seconde Rhétorique') inverts that of the first. We begin with thematic articles, dealing with rhetorical abundance, the poem as gift, and visuality, followed by pieces devoted to individual poets (Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de Pizan, and Charles d'Orléans). Wolfzettel is particularly adept here at articulating the complex relationship between the lyric je and the reality it perceives, charting what he refers to as a 'prise de conscience progressive de la subjectivité' (p. 185). Rounding off the anthology is an appendix of three articles placing the lyric traditions of medieval Italy in relation to those of France (both oc and oïl). Wolfzettel interrogates the notion of 'novelty' across linguistic traditions, seeks to isolate the social function of Frederick II's Sicilian School, and, finally, traces the development of stilnovismo's peculiar obsession with light. Given that it brings together material that has already been published, what, we might ask, is 'original' about this anthology itself? Half of these articles, newly translated from German into French, will be accessible to some readers now for the first time. More importantly, however, by anthologizing these pieces, Wolfzettel has made their individual claims [End Page 257] concerning the originality of medieval French lyric production mutually reinforcing, and all the stronger because of it.

Huw Grange
Jesus College, Oxford


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pp. 257-258
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