Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruiz, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruiz, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruiz, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruiz, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Geoffrey Chaucer

Synopsis

"A frequently brilliant study of pseudo- autobiographical writing in the fourteenth century". -- Rupert T. Pickens, University of Kentucky

"New and challenging readings of texts that are central to the understanding of the fourteenth-century literature of Spain, France, and England.... (de Looze's) wide acquaintance with the Western literary tradition from Homer and Virgil to Dickens and Joyce is apparent on every page. His analyses of four medieval authors... will become essential reading for all but the most dyed-in-the-wool, dry-as-dust medievalists and will do much to counteract the insularity of many modem theorists". -- Ross G. Arthur, York University

In Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century, Laurence de Looze examines representative "books of the self" by four prominent medieval authors in order to discover how such texts have been read both as works of autobiographical "truth" and as works of pure literary artifice. In formulating an answer, he considers whether there is anything that inheres in a text that makes it necessarily autobiographical, and how the term autobiography may describe, in these instances, a way of reading more than a way of writing.

In the course of his study, de Looze develops a method of analyzing "pseudoautobiography" that transcends national boundaries and scholarly subdisciplines, and he applies the methods and concerns of modem literary theory to the interpretation of medieval texts. At the same time, he grounds his study thoroughly in the medieval context of these works, discussing the tradition and its pertinent texts -- from Augustine and Boethius through Jean de Meun and beyond -- thus providing a substantial chronological andlinguistic range for his discussion.

Because it offers insights into the works of four prominent medieval writers and proposes a new, reader-oriented typology of autobiographical writing, de Looze's study will be of wide interes

Excerpt

Some years ago, while reading the critical literature on Guillaume de Machaut, I was amused, surprised, and delighted to find that different generations of readers had read Machaut's narrative works in wildly diverging manners--as pure autobiography and as fanciful fictions. When I turned to Jean Froissart, I discovered the same divergence in terms of response; the Prison amoureuse, for example, was interpreted variously as a reflection of real experience and as entirely invented. Moving on to Geoffrey Chaucer, I again found similar characteristics in the critical literature. For some readers, the Retractation was an aged Chaucer's sober reflection on his life acts; for others (in a view that has now fallen from favor), even at the end Chaucer was still spinning ironic tales. When I finally began reading in earnest on Spain's Juan Ruiz, I discovered a more radical polarization in critics' reconstructions: at one extreme the positing of a serious, sincere Juan Ruiz, and at the other a denial not only of a referential experience for the narrated episodes but even of the historical basis for a single, authorial personage, Juan Ruiz.

If the same works could be read as either autobiographical or fictional, this fact could potentially tell us a lot about two different subjects: what we call autobiography and how some fourteenth-century literary texts operate. Autobiography seemed to describe in these instances a way of read-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.