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Machaut and the Medieval Apprenticeship Tradition

Machaut and the Medieval Apprenticeship Tradition: Truth, Fiction and Poetic Craft

Series: Gallica
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Machaut and the Medieval Apprenticeship Tradition
    Book Description:

    "A milestone in Machaut studies and and in late-medieval French literature in general. Machaut, already considered the seminal figure in late-medieval poetics and music, here comes across in these respects more clearly than ever. Kelly also further contextualises him within what we might call the authorial `apprenticeship tradition' of Boethius, the Roman de la Rose, Dante, and later Gower, Chaucer, and Christine de Pizan. The fruit of one of the field's most distinguished scholars today." Nadia Margolis, Mount Holyoke College. Guillaume de Machaut was celebrated in the later Middle Ages as a supreme poet and composer, and accordingly, his poetry was recommended as a model for aspiring poets. In his Voir Dit, Toute Belle, a young, aspiring poet, convinces the Machaut figure to mentor her. This volume examines Toute Belle as she masters Machaut's dual arts of poetry and love, focusing on her successful apprenticeship in these arts; it also provides a thorough review of Machaut's art of love and art of poetry in his dits and lyricsm, and the previous scholarship on these topics. It goes on to treat Machaut's legacy among poets who, like Toute Belle, adapted his poetic craft in new and original ways. A concluding analysis of melodie identifies the synaesthetic pleasure that late medieval poets, including Machaut, offer their readers. Douglas Kelly is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-242-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Guillaume de Machaut is known today for works that depict an art of love as well as an art of poetry. Indeed, he fused the two arts – ‘in many texts “love” seems to become a metaphor for “poetry”’² – so that his art of love is an integral part of his art of poetry. As Machaut puts it in one of many variations of the same idea: ‘Car qui de sentement ne fait, / Son oeuvre et son chant contrefait’ (Remede, v. 407–8)³ [for whoever does not write with true feeling falsifies both his poem and his song]. Thesentement,...

  8. Part I: An Art of Love

    • 1 Machaut’s Evolving Conception of Good Love
      (pp. 21-50)

      Medieval lyric poets constitute a melancholy lot. Happy springtime renewals foreshadow a dolorous love never reciprocated and forever unsatisfied. If hallucinations can make winter frost metamorphose into May-time flowers, the wintry reality of a forlorn love quickly thrusts itself onto the lovelorn singer as his or her song moves on to its unhappy, seemingly inevitable conclusion. As the epigraph from Bernart de Ventadorn’s well-knowncansoon the lark’s flight states, the lover has much to learn, and what he or she learns is that singing for joy is deceptive. The song must end because the joys of love never really...

    • 2 The Vicissitudes of Good Love: A Quandary?
      (pp. 51-94)

      The epigraphs to this chapter pose in dramatic pedagogical language the quandary that emerges in Machaut’sFontaine amoureuseand, more profoundly, hisVoir Dit. Like Esperance in theRemede, Toute Belle in the Voir Dit teaches Guillaume by her good and stable love how he himself should return her love – what theEchecs moraliséscalls ‘reamacion’ (271r17). In Toute Belle’s case love is based on good hope andsouffisance, virtues that Guillaume describes as characterizing her love for him in this dit that he writes for her about their love. she, Guillaume asserts, teaches him how to love well, not...

  9. Part II: An Art of Poetry

    • 3 The Scope of Toute Belle’s Art of Poetry
      (pp. 97-137)

      Although theRemede de Fortunehas long been seen as an advanced art of poetry because it contains examples of the most common fixed forms in late medieval French,³ theVoir Ditis an even better illustration of the art, and for several reasons. First, it too contains numerous examples of commonly used fixed forms, including lyrics that are models for poetic responses to them. Second, its prose passages areepistres(VD, v. 494) or art letters illustrating the art of prose composition in the epistolary mode. Third, common poetic images such as Fortune and her Wheel and dream vision,...

    • 4 Examples and Their Reconfiguration
      (pp. 138-187)

      Two lengthy complaintes in theVoir Dit, the one written by Toute Belle (v. 5812–6003/5885–6076) and the other Guillaume’s response (v. 6043–174/6116–247), bring us directly back to Toute Belle’s apprenticeship. The complaintes are an important exception to the infrequency of their poetic exchanges (but not of letters) after the dit’s midpoint. Toute Belle learns that Guillaume has questioned her love and, distressed, wonders why. Picking up on Guillaume’s earlier comparison of her to Semiramis (v. 4814–15/4887–8, 5838–9/5911–12), she catalogues women who proved their loyalty to unfaithful men (VD, v. 5833–8/5906–11)....

    • 5 The Debate Mode
      (pp. 188-218)

      Although almost all of Machaut’s dits treat issues centering on love, theConfort d’ami’sattempt to solve love’s commonplace problems relies on firmer religious and moral foundations than was common in earlier love poetry.³ The poet’s allusions to Boethius are testimony to this conviction. They also testify to his reliance upon his late medieval audience’s knowledge of Boethius’sConsolation of Philosophy, an influential work throughout the Middle Ages.⁴ Moreover, beginning in the thirteenth century there appear a number of French translations and adaptations into French of Boethius’s work for lay audiences like those Machaut addressed.⁵ Importantly here, theConsolationand...

  10. Part III: Machaut’s Legacy in Poetry and Music

    • 6 Machaut as Pre-Text: Imitation and Emulation
      (pp. 221-274)

      The first epigraph to this chapter mirrors in traditional language Toute Belle’s rise as apprentice love poet. Her progress towards independence in Machaut’s twin arts of poetry and love demonstrates successful completion of her apprenticeship. Indeed, she finally surpasses her master in the art of love while teaching him to remember and practice what he teaches in the art of poetry; as poet, she begins to write independently. In effect, in theVoir Ditshe becomes a model for all those apprentices and rewriters alike who follow in Machaut’s wake and practice his art.

      The second epigraph, from Nicole Oresme’s...

    • 7 Melodie
      (pp. 275-296)

      Jacqueline Cerquiglini poses an intriguing indirect question: ‘l’on peut, à bon droit, se demander quels sont les harmoniques duVoir Dit’.³ The statement alludes, of course, to the musical context of Machaut’s invention, essential according to Toute Belle if one wants to enjoy Guillaume’s poetry fully. But it also recalls a tradition in which the poet adopts an art of love while playing with modulations on the rhetorical tradition of rewriting. This is evident in Toute Belle’s apprenticeship during which she imitates and even challenges Guillaume’s lyrics. Moreover, in the social milieu of late medieval French literature such give and...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 297-300)

    Machaut’s recognized masterpiece, theVoir Dit, relates the progress of an exemplary apprentice poet, Toute Belle, in the acquisition of her master’s art of poetry and prose and his new art of love as it emerged from dit to dit. From this evidence, I have set out the content and scope of Machaut’s dual arts of love and poetry and shown how Toute Belle acquired and practiced these arts. This led to consideration of the poet’s juxtaposition of truth and fiction in theVoir Dit. Rightly so in its medieval context: titles were expected to shed light on the work...

    (pp. 301-307)
    (pp. 308-332)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 333-356)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 357-359)