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Assembling the Lyric Self

Assembling the Lyric Self: Authorship from Troubadour Song to Italian Poetry Book

Olivia Holmes
Volume: 20
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Assembling the Lyric Self
    Book Description:

    Assembling the Lyric Self investigates the transition in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries from the first surviving Provençal and Italian manuscripts (mostly multiauthor lyric anthologies prepared by scribes) to the single-author codex-that is, to the form we now think of as the book of poems. Working from extensive archival and philological research, Olivia Holmes explores the efforts of individual poets to establish poetic authenticity and authority in the context of expanding vernacular literacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5301-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Manuscripts
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Assembling the Book and Its Author A Historical Overview
    (pp. 1-24)

    In the thirteenth century, western Europe witnessed a sharp increase in vernacular literacy and the widespread appearance, for the first time since classical antiquity, of a large body of secular literature for popular consumption.¹ Some of the earliest surviving manuscripts of vernacular poetry are multiauthored, scribally compiled anthologies of troubadour lyric, composed in Old Occitan (also known as Old Provençal) and assembled around the middle of the century. Although the period of troubadour lyric production spans both the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, transmission had been predominantly oral—the texts were sung—and only the poets from the end of the...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Uc de Saint Circ
    (pp. 25-46)

    In order to understand the emergence in Italy of lyric cycles and codices ordered by their authors, I would like to investigate as a point of departure the role played by the author in an earlier Occitan anthology compiled presumably by scribes. The latter part of this chapter will examine in detail a sequence of twelvecansosby the troubadour Uc de Saint Circ that appears in the first part of the oldest troubadour collection extant—and the largest, after ms. C (discussed in chapter 5)—theCanzoniere provenzale estense, known to specialists as D.¹ There is a certain amount...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Guittone d’Arezzo
    (pp. 47-69)

    In passing from the Occitan troubadour Uc de Saint Circ to the Italian poet Guittone d’Arezzo, we find ourselves on firmer ground. Italian poetry was born under the sign of Latinity, and of writing; there is little evidence of its oral transmission or musical performance. Guittone flourished from around 1255 to 1280, in the period immediately following the one in which Uc was active and the earliest extant troubadour anthologies were compiled, and he had an enormous impact on the literary culture of his day (see Marti, “Ritratto e fortuna di Guittone d’Arezzo”). There are fiftycanzoni, about 250 sonnets,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 “De’ varie romanze volgare”
    (pp. 70-100)

    When Guittone d’Arezzo ordered his individual poems into a longer macrotext, strung his pearls into a necklace, he set a precedent. There is a good deal of evidence in the canzoniere Vaticano Latino 3793 (ms. V)—the largest and most important extant codex of early Italian lyric, from the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century—that a number of other Duecento poets also experimented with macrotextual organization. I have already mentioned V as the codex in which Guittone’s work is ordered into sequences that correspond in part to their ordering in ms. L. L and V...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Guiraut Riquier
    (pp. 101-119)

    Let us temporarily abandon the thriving literary culture of Florence and neighboring cities and make a geographic leap back northward and westward to examine the work of a troubadour who frequently took as his subject matter the decline of Occitan culture in his time. Guiraut Riquier flourished from 1254 to 1290, roughly contemporary with Guittone d’Arezzo, and also appears to have compiled his work into an independent book.¹ At the bottom right-hand corner of folio 288r of troubadour ms. C (Bibliothèque Nationale Française 856), a neatly copied anthology of more than 1,200 troubadour poems compiled in the south of France...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Dante’s “Vita nova”
    (pp. 120-144)

    Thelibelloof young Dante Alighieri, composed in the last decade of the thirteenth century, has much in common with Guiraut Riquier’s nearly contemporary “libre,” especially in its deliberate self-positioning in relation to previous tradition (or, in the case of Dante, to a number of previous traditions). But Dante’s small book is forward-, rather than backward-looking; Dante saw his poetry as the culmination and fulfillment of his predecessors’ poetics, and as a promise of something greater, as completing their works in the same way that the New Testament was thought to have completed the Old—a figural reading of literary...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Nicolò de’ Rossi
    (pp. 145-169)

    One hundred years after Uc de Saint Circ’s residence in the court of Alberico da Romano, we find ourselves back in Treviso, in the hands of another great anthologizer. The Treviso-born Nicolò de’ Rossi, elected professor of law in 1318 in the recently constituted “Studio trevigiano” (where he was preferred over the outsider Cino da Pistoia), seems to have been at least indirectly responsible for the organization of two important codices: Vaticano Latino barberiniano 3953 (ms. B), among the most well-known and highly valued manuscripts of late thirteenth-century Tuscan lyric, and Colombino 7.1.32 of the Biblioteca Capitular of Seville (ms....

  12. CHAPTER 8 Petrarch’s “Canzoniere”
    (pp. 170-180)

    When, in the second half of the fourteenth century, Francesco Petrarca assembled the work to which he gave the Latin titleRerum vulgarium fragmenta—and to which I refer by its more informal (and much later) vernacular name, theCanzoniere—he was not primarily producing a script intended for subsequent vocal or musical realization (though the poems in it have frequently been performed musically), nor was he writing an abstract, “ideal” text designed to be reproduced in countless printed editions (though he produced that, too).¹ What Petrarch was chiefly concerned with creating was not a means, but an end: a...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-186)

    According to Leonard Barkan, “It could be argued that all of Petrarch’s works amount to an extended act of introspection and autobiography,” and “Petrarch’s works probably represent the first sustained attempt at self-consciousness in Western writing” (206). He goes on to say that among the works, these remarks particularly apply to theRime sparse. I cite him not because such observations are exceptionally original or insightful, but because they are typical. Petrarch is frequently given credit for the invention of a subjective, personalized literature that paved the way for a “Renaissance” or “modern” conception of autonomous human identity.¹ Yet the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-222)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-236)
  16. Index
    (pp. 237-245)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 246-246)