Building the Text: Architecture as Metaphor in Late Medieval and Early Modern France

By David Grant Cowling | Go to book overview

PREFACE

ALMOST twenty years have passed since Paul Zumthor famous rehabilitation of the rhétoriqueurs in Le Masque et la lumière.1 Since 1978 scholars have brought to light many neglected aspects of the vast, varied, and ambitious literary production of the writers of France and Burgundy (later Habsburg Austria) during the period known to the writers of literary history as the 'Pre-Renaissance' (c. 1460-c. 1520), but much remains to be done. The term 'rhétoriqueur' itself is unsatisfactory, as Pierre Jodogne convincingly demonstrated as long ago as 1970.2 The only modern vue d'ensemble remains that of Zumthor, whose conclusions are based on a corpus of modern editions of rhétoriqueur texts, yet many important works are still waiting for an editor, and others urgently require re-editing. This present book is not intended to serve as an introduction to rhétoriqueur writing, nor as a synthesis of current critical opinion. It is, rather, a contribution to the mapping of a vast terrain, an attempt to discern a pattern in the richest of all the poetic mines exploited by the rhétoriqueurs: the image of the building as both metaphor and allegory.

This book would not have seen the light of day without the involvement, direct and indirect, of numerous individuals. My largest debt of gratitude is to the two supervisors of my D.Phil. thesis, Terence Cave and Jane Taylor, who offered help, advice, and encouragement throughout. I am also extremely grateful to those who read and made comments on the typescript, especially my Examiners Richard Cooper and Ann Moss, and the OUP Reader Jennifer Britnell, and to those who sat through and commented upon earlier versions of the research at seminars and conferences in Oxford and elsewhere. Parts of some of the

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1
Le Masque et la lumière: La Poétique des grands rhétoriqueurs ( Paris: Seuil, 1978). See also Zumthor Anthologie des grands rhétoriqueurs ( Paris: Union Générale d'Éditions, 1978). For a more recent study, see F. Cornilliat, ' Or ne mens. Couleurs de l'éloge et du blâme chez les 'Grands Rhétoriqueurs' ( Paris: Champion, 1994).
2
"Les Rhétoriqueurs et l'humanisme: Problé8e d'histoire littéraire"', in A. H. T. Levi (ed.), Humanism in France at the End of the Middle Ages and in the Early Renaissance ( Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1970), 150-75.

-v-

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