A Short History of French Literature by Sarah Kay, Terence Cave, Malcolm Bowie

By Sarah Kay, Terence Cave, Malcolm Bowie

During this lucid and leading edge quantity, 3 wonderful students hint this heritage of French literature from its beginnings to the current day. From the oral, risky nameless works of the early center a long time through the emergence of a print tradition within the Renaissance, via to the tried codification of genres and types within the 19th century and the inventive experimentation of the 20 th, a brief historical past of French Literature demonstrates the realm significance of French literature, and the intense richness of its variety. the 3 major components of the quantity disguise the center a while, the Early glossy interval, and the trendy interval, and supply wide-ranging, own, and special insurance of significant writers and activities. Writing for the normal reader up to for college students, the authors diversity expertly among authors and their works, historic occasions, and literary pursuits, supplying as an entire an authoritative and leading edge account of the heritage of French literature.

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This song is addressed to Eleanor of Aquitaine, by then queen of England. With its effortlessly virtuoso rhyming and its complex web of images, by means of which fin’ amor is subtly insinuated into the heart of a whole range of (not always compatible) experiences, it is characteristic of the broader 40 the middle ages: earliest texts to 1470 European lyric to come, while also echoing the poetry of the very early troubadours. Even much later songs, and songs by women troubadours (or trobairitz), can hark back to these beginnings.

Concomitantly anonymity (which had been widespread) becomes a rarity as poets hasten to lay claim to their works. At the end of the fourteenth century, Christine de Pizan, recently widowed and needing an income to support herself and her children, embraces a career as a writer in a way that, while exceptional in her day, would have been quite unthinkable earlier. She goes on to produce, in the early years of the fifteenth century, the most prolific œuvre of any medieval French writer. Since she also oversees the manuscript production of her own works, she can be hailed not only as the first fully professional author, but also as the first publisher, of French literature.

Fei, for example, means ‘religious faith’ but also ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘fidelity to the sworn word’, while proessa means ‘moral worth’ as well as ‘physical courage and prowess’ and malvestatz can mean ‘(moral) wickedness’, ‘(social) baseness’, or even ‘(physical) cowardice’. Guilhem’s mock sermon (casteis) may be intended to preserve women’s faith from wickedness, or it may mean that a woman refused access to noble warriors will compromise herself with low-born or cowardly men. He deplores keeping women short of what he calls ‘good equipment’ (lo bon conrei; the root con in conrei is often an invitation to sexual double entendre in 36 the middle ages: earliest texts to 1470 Guilhem’s songs).

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