Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages: Voicing the Lyric Lady

Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages: Voicing the Lyric Lady

Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages: Voicing the Lyric Lady

Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages: Voicing the Lyric Lady

Synopsis

The alba, or dawn-song, takes its name from the hour at which it is sung. Appearing in southern France around the middle of the twelfth century, the genre presents the parting plaints of adulterous lovers. Such erotically charged songs blend the lyricism, dramatic power, and poignancy implicit in the lovers' plight. The alba is the only genre in an emerging vernacular lyric corpus whose focus is reciprocal romantic love. Gale Sigal reexamines the role of the female voice as it is commonly viewed in the history of Western lyric. Among lyric ladies, the alba lady plays a vital role: she dramatizes the female love experience in her own voice. The traditional image of the silenced and repressed lady of the canso (the "canonical lyric genre") is overturned by the alba lady's forceful presence and eloquent voice. That voice cries out for a hearing, while the canso lady's is still. Erotic Dawn-Songs redirects our attention to this lyric lady, who for the first time assumes her rightful place at the critical center,of a lyric continuum in which an array of women are presented from varying points of view. In the process this book crosses a number of disciplinary borders, including comparative literature, social and literary history, women's studies, and medieval studies.

Excerpt

Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages: Voicing the Lyric Lady reassesses female voice and experience in medieval verse from the viewpoint of an overlooked but essential genre, the dawn-song or alba. Whereas most interrogations of medieval attitudes toward women take the canso, the canonical lyric genre, as a model, this study recognizes that in the alba, the lady plays a more active and intriguing role and therefore sheds a unique and colorful light on her poet's and society's view of women. Erotic Dawn-Songs launches forth the alba, heretofore viewed as a grace note to the larger troubadour genres, as a powerful lyric instrument in its own right.

Investigating the founding moments of Western conceptions of romantic love, desire, and identity, Erotic Dawn-Songs joins an ongoing colloquy among contemporary cultural theorists, feminists, and medievalists. It also reaches out to a general audience of students of literature and lovers of poetry who find the dynamics of romantic love and the creation of the idealized female love object Germane, problematic, and provocative subjects. the alba's narrative scenario--the disruption by dawn's light of a passionate love tryst--offers a singular and subtle psychological portrait of the unconscious self arising by way of rebellious, illicit love. Providing a comprehensive overview of the alba's place in the lyric corpus, this work shows how the troubadours' soundings of sexual relations reverberate down the centuries to our own time. Complementing the interpretive endeavor is a series of close readings and detailed commentary on individual lyrics intended to expose the reader to the genre's breadth and poetic virtuosity.

The emerging vernacular lyric of twelfth-century France provided a pioneering impetus for exploring human emotions and also for inventing fresh forms of female speech. the troubadours created their female characters ex nihilo--out of their own vivid imaginations. These indelible feminine figures have not only spawned literary offspring but have also served as models for real women to emulate: if, as many critics believe, the canso . . .

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.