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Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Series: Gallica
Volume: 26
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England
    Book Description:

    The emergence of vernacular allegories in the middle ages, recounted by a first-person narrator-protagonist, invites both abstract and specific interpretations of the author's role, since the protagonist who claims to compose the narrative also directs the reader to interpret such claims. Moreover, the specific attributes of the narrator-protagonist bring greater attention to individual identity. But as the actual authors of the allegories also adapted elements found in each other's works, their shared literary tradition unites differing perspectives: the most celebrated French first-person allegory, the erotic Roman de la Rose, quickly inspired an allegorical trilogy of spiritual pilgrimage narratives by Guillaume de Deguileville. English authors sought recognition for their own literary activity through adaptation and translation from a tradition inspired by both allegories. This account examines Deguileville's underexplored allegory before tracing the tradition's importance to the English authors Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, and John Lydgate, with particular attention to the mediating influence of French authors, including Christine de Pizan and Laurent de Premierfait. Through comparative analysis of the late medieval authors who shaped French and English literary canons, it reveals the seminal, communal model of vernacular authorship established by the tradition of first-person allegory. Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath is Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-869-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The impact of history is present in every encounter with literature; literary works do not appear in an informational vacuum and are not static in their meaning. Yet the historical relevance of literature cannot be determined simply through reference to a coterminous series of events. The significance of literature depends upon the interactive process of literary reception, which is irreducible to external chronological progress. Literature has its own internal historiography, as authors and readers conceive of their objects through their intertextual experience, through the patterns and innovations of literary traditions. In this book, I trace the history of a seminal...

  7. 1 “Comment ot nom”: Allegory and Authorship in the Roman de la Rose and the Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine
    (pp. 19-58)

    Guillaume de Deguileville’s fourteenth-century pilgrimage allegories were among the most widely traveled literary texts of the Middle Ages. The Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine (PVH) (Pilgrimage of Human Life), composed c. 1331, describes the journey through life as a pilgrimage toward the heavenly city of Jerusalem; Deguileville revised this allegory (c. 1355) before he composed two more pilgrimage allegories.¹ The Pèlerinage de l’Âme (PA) (Pilgrimage of the Soul) (c. 1355) continues the first allegory, recounting the journey through heaven and hell taken by the pilgrim’s soul, while the Pèlerinage de Jhesucrist (PJC) (Pilgrimage of Jesus Christ) (c. 1358) envisions the...

  8. 2 “What so myn auctour mente”: Allegory and Authorship in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Dreams
    (pp. 59-102)

    By the final quarter of the fourteenth century, the interpretation, citation, and circulation of the Rose had reached a level unprecedented for a vernacular text, and the strategy of attributing authorship to the first-person narrator-protagonist of an allegorical vision was widespread.¹ The previous chapter studied the deployment of this strategy in one of the earliest and most widely read allegories directly citing the Rose, the mid-fourteenth-century Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine (PVH), written and revised by Guillaume de Deguileville. Deguileville continued experimentation with the strategy in the two later allegories completing his Pèlerinage trilogy, and his abiding interest in the...

  9. 3 “Thereof was I noon auctour”: Allegory and Thomas Hoccleve’s Authority
    (pp. 103-138)

    Thomas Hoccleve (c. 1366–1426) is famed as the “first autobiographical poet” of the English language.¹ His three major works, La Male Regle (c. 1406), the Regiment of Princes (c. 1411), and the compilation of texts known as the Series (c. 1419–1421), all employ a first-person voice that assumes the name of the poet and expresses a wealth of self-referential detail unparalleled in fifteenth-century poetry. The most remarkable quality of Hoccleve’s poems, however, is their curious expression of topical and personal concerns through a language of “small-scale personification”: the poems regularly invoke abstract or imagined figures as characters, although...

  10. 4 Verba Translatoris: Allegory and John Lydgate’s Literary Tradition
    (pp. 139-172)

    John Lydgate (c. 1371–1449) is indisputably the most prolific English poet of the fifteenth century and arguably the most prolific poet to write in the English language, as he is credited with some 140,000 lines of verse.¹ Literary scholarship on John Lydgate, while noting the heterogeneous nature of his abundant textual production, has focused on the fifteenth-century Benedictine’s evident interest in valorizing the English vernacular and asserting authority for authors composing in English.² Mindful of the sixteenth-century Reformation and Renaissance movements, many studies of what has been termed Lydgate’s “laureate” poetics look to the auctoritas of Latin texts, to...

  11. Coda
    (pp. 173-176)

    “I know all things, except myself”: so runs the mocking refrain of a lyric by François Villon, a fifteenth-century poet whose roguish first-person self-characterization and prominent citation of the Rose have attracted extensive study.² Unnoted, however, is the way Villon’s ballade finds its match in an earlier boastful voice, that of Rude Entendement (Poor Understanding), the personification who shouts so boisterously within the allegorical verses penned by the medieval monks Guillaume de Deguileville and John Lydgate. In this book, I have traced an outline of the first inter-referential literary tradition in French and English to employ the first-person voice routinely...

    (pp. 177-196)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 197-210)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-213)