Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature: Martyrs to Love

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature: Martyrs to Love

Article excerpt

Simon Gaunt, Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature: Martyrs to Love (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). vii + 235 pp. ISBN 0-19-927207-7. £50.00.

This book is a triumph. Gathering together texts in two languages and over a wide range of genres (lyric, lai, verse and prose romance), it unravels the literary commonplace that love is true, real, or worthwhile if it results in or is represented by death. In so doing, Gaunt raises some crucial questions about the representation of love in western culture, and provides an array of scintillating answers. The early chapters show how the highly influential paradigm of martyrdom for love is constructed by the ethics and power-play of troubadour lyrics; the later chapters explore how characters in narrative texts enact - or refuse - this paradigm of dying (or offering, threatening, or desiring to die) for love. Unsurprisingly, given its star-crossed lovers and frequendy doom-laden idiom, the Tristan story resonates throughout this book, as Gaunt examines various texts and episodes from the tradition, shedding new light on them as he does so.

There is so much to savour in this book - and this verb is used advisedly in a work which offers a provocative reading of the eaten heart motif found in Le Castelain de Couci and the rasps and vidas of Guillem de Cabestanh. In the chapter examining the role of gender in the representation of dying for love, Gaunt brilliandy juxtaposes the spectacles of the dead Demoisele d'Escalot in La Mort le roiArtu and the comatose Guilliadun in Eliduc, to reveal the way in which the death of women for love troubles the fantasy of parity between the men and women in love. The dazzling final chapter brings together men who die for the love of men: Narcissus who dies for love of himself; and Galehaut, the tragic giant of Arthurian prose romance who, in what must be one of the most moving passages of the Prose Lancelot, is consumed and killed by his love for Lancelot. …

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.