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~REVIEWS~ 107 Culture, its being-in-the-making as something not quite achieved, of something heterogeneous and incomplete, is expressed in the Baroque. (198-99) Este estudio es el mejor que existe hasta el momenta sabre el fen6meno neoBarroco y uno de los llamados a convertirse en clasicos del estudio del Barraco. SalvadorA. Oropesa KansasStateUniversity Menocal, Marfa Rosa. Shards of Love: Exile and the Origins of the Lyric. Durham: Duke UP•1994. xv+ 294 pp. ISBN 0-8223-1419-3. Maria Rosa Menocal's most ,recent work succeeds in its noble aim to carry the reader on an inspired and inspiring journey beyond the "horse latitudes " of traditional medieval historical-literary studies. Extremely well read, the author cleverly combines centuries-old (Dante) and contemporary (Todorov) works, ancient (kharja)and modern-day (Eric Clapton's "Layla") love songs, to support her well developed argument that love lyrics in the vernacular can be and often indeed are an act of political engagement. The prestige afforded such song and poetry in what are today considered marginalized languages such as Catalan or Mozarabic has for centuries been limited , as "the mode of being medievalists is dictated not by those paradigmatic modes of medievalism, but by the modalities of Renaissance historiography " (26). This 1492-oriented approach to historical and poetic scholarship has generated tremendous momentum, but all at the same·latitude. Menocal's first chapter, "The Horse Latitudes," exposes the perils of sailing a route that is familiar yet inherently inescapable, lest the explorers dare to lighten their vessel by sacrificing a significant portion of the valuable cargo. This mental image created in the title of the introductory chapter alludes to the age of exploration (also an age of exile)and serves also as a metaphor for the author's aim in writing Shardsof Love.As she explains, even Columbus encounters the Horse Latitudes, "either of two belts or regions in the neighborhood of 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South ... characterized by high pressure, calm and light baffling winds" where sailors, caught in these "sailing ruts, began throwing everything overboard to lighten the ship and restore movement. Even the precious horses ... " (10). The dramatic act of casting horses over the side of an endangered ship constitutes a fitting metaphor for the accomplishments achieved in the skillful, thoroughly documented argument presented in ShardsofLove. The scholars and poets, past and present, who are of interest to the author of Shardsof Love,are precisely those who have known exile in one 108 ~Reviews~ sense or another and who have taken scandalous steps to generate forward momentum in the field of Romance Philology, such as Dante, Erich Auerbach, Ramon Llull, Ramon Menendez Pidal and Ezra Pound, among many others. Of particular significance to Menocal' s thesis is the exiled Dante's De vulgari eloquentia,a work which renders its author the modern Medievalist's "most immediate professional ancestor" because it resists exegetical, institutional interpretation (12);perversely defending the superiority of the ungrammatical mother tongue, the voice of the "scruffy" street singer (101). Menocal asserts the strong presence of an anti-institutional counterculture in the Medieval Period. The observation that such a phenomenon exists in the tenth through thirteenth centuries, the author notes, is not as significant or groundbreaking as the argument that this counterculture is more widespread than historians have suggested. There are indeed rambunctious, "disobedient children" hard at their work in the Medieval Period (131). Several writers have been erroneously historicized as pious, respectful or conformist simply due to the success of their labors. Aside from the example of Dante, Menocal points out that the troubadours, who sing in the scandalous mother tongue, have been assimilated into the sometimes misleading "mainstream narrative" and even elevated to the status of our "venerable ancestors" (38). Traditional historiography favors the narrative. Medieval history, Menocal staunchly asserts, has a significant basis in the vernacular lyric - a background which defies the unity of the mythical master narrative' yearned for by some historians past and present, such as Curtius or de Rougemont. The Horse Latitudes of medieval historical discourse are littered with unifying grand narratives. Such histories discard that which is marginal, that which does not lend itself to definition of the dominant...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2377-9551
Print ISSN
1084-1490
Pages
pp. 107-109
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-06
Open Access
No
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