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Andreas and the Ambiguity of Courtly Love

Andreas and the Ambiguity of Courtly Love

  • Book Info
    Andreas and the Ambiguity of Courtly Love
    Book Description:

    A resolution to the vexed problem whether a troubadour's love is erotic or spiritual is offered by Paolo Cherchi through a new reading of Andreas Capellanus'De Amore(written around 1186-1196). He suggests that Andreas, using a rhetorical strategy that creates ambiguity, condemns courtly love because its claim that passion generates virtue is untenable and deceitful. Although Andreas grasped the core of the courtly love 'system,' namely, the relation between passion and ethics, he failed to consider the notion ofmezura, that courtly virtue through which troubadours transformed nature into culture, and erotic passion into social discourse.

    Cherchi offers an innovative interpretation and a close reading of selected poems. He traces the history of Provençal lyric poetry, highlighting some of the significant personalities and movements.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7083-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    ʹMais la poésie médiévale! Reconnaissons-le: dans ces manifestations les plus accomplies, la civilisation des Xe-XIe-XIIesiècles est plus étrangères à la nôtre que celle de la Rome antique.ʹ¹ With these lapidary words, Paul Zumthor synthesized his thinking for decades about medieval poetry. It was an assessment which, in many ways, sounds like a confession of bankruptcy, a realization that his previous work as a historian, cultivated under the aegis of sound philology and history of ideas, had failed to reach the heart of that remote world. In that admission, however, there was no despair: the still young scholar was embarking...

  5. The Ambiguity of Courtly Love in Andreas Capellanusʹs Model
    (pp. 3-41)

    A tinge of paradox may confuse new students of courtly love who read the critical literature of the last few decades. They will find that the notion of courtly love, especially when applied to troubadour poetry, is threatened with extinction because too much effort is being made to keep it alive. This paradox is proof that neither those who firmly maintain that there is historical justification for that notion nor those who would like to expunge it from the history of literature succeed in making their respective cases persuasive. This debate depends to a great extent on the ways in...

  6. Mezura
    (pp. 42-80)

    Dante, with his customary acumen, gives an engaging definition of courtliness which offers an excellent basis for the construction of an interpretative model:

    Cortesia e onestade è tuttʹuno: e però ne le corti anticamente le virtudi e li belli costumi sʹusavano, sì come oggi sʹusa lo contrario, si tolse quello vocabulo da le corti, e fu tanto a dire cortesia quanto uso di corte¹

    [Courtliness andonestadeare one and the same: and since in the courts of yesteryear virtue and beautiful habits were cultivated – just as today the opposite is done – that word (i.e., courtliness) was derived...

  7. The Adynata
    (pp. 81-123)

    The concluding paragraphs of the previous chapter have perhaps left the impression that the poems of the troubadours, given their repetitious and conventional qualities, could be interchanged among themselves. This impression may result from our attempt to construct a ʹmodelʹ of courtly love to which even the most distinct poetical personalities are sacrificed. It is clear, though, that no reader, however insensitive, would ever mistake a poem by Raimbaut dʹAurenga for one by Guiraut Riquier, or a poem by Arnaut Daniel for one by Bertolme Zorzi. The differences in poetic diction and lyrical intensity are usually so sharp that there...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 124-128)

    Year 1289. Almost two centuries earlier the dawn of a splendid cultural phenomenon was marked by a few poems of love by a troubadour. That day was coming to a close, and at this sunset a man called Matfre Ermengaud, not a troubadour but a troubadoursʹ admirer, set for himself the task of preserving their heritage. Not an easy task, to be sure, especially considering the fact that the sponsor had neither poetic ambition nor poetic vein whatsoever. He was very likely a lawyer, a profession not at all incompatible with the world of the troubadour, at least with its...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 129-164)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-186)
  11. Index of Names
    (pp. 187-194)