Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Old French Ballette: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 308

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Old French Ballette: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 308

Article excerpt

The Old French Ballette: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 308, ed., trans., and introd. Eglal Doss-Quinby and Samuel N. Rosenberg, music editions and commentary by Elizabeth Aubrey, Publications romanes et françaises 239 (Geneva: Droz, 2006). clxii + 546 pp. ISBN 2-60x5-01026-2. Sw. fr. 152.00. Every manuscript has its day, and Francis Douce's eleventh manuscript (now Bodleian Library Douce 308) is currently enjoying unprecedented levels of attention. The subject of a conference in Metz in February 2007, of several forthcoming articles on the manuscript (Nancy Regalado, Eglal Doss-Quinby, and Alison Stones among others), of a full-length monograph with a complete edition of the lyrics (Mary Atchison, The 'Chansonnier" of Oxford Bodleian MS Douce 308: Essays and Complete Edition of Texts (Aldershot, 2005)), the manuscript is the source for an edition in the prestigious 'Publications romanes et françaises' series of a subset of a chansonnier dedicated to the old French ballette. Douce's manuscript was copied in the early fourteenth century with a terminus post quern of 1309 for the composition of One jeux-partis contained in the chansonnier, itself just one of five books assembled alongside Jacques de Longuyon's Voeux du paon, Richard de Fournival's Bestiaire d'amours, Jacques Bretel's Tournoi de Chauvency, and a fragmentary miscellany completable from British Library, Harley MS 4972. The scribes divided the chansonnier according to genre or type into six sections: grans charts, estampies, jeus-partis, pastorelles, balletes, and sottes chansons contre amours, totalling rather over 500 songs, none of which is preserved with music. Whereas Atchison's edition includes all the songs in the chansonnier, Samuel Rosenberg and Eglal Doss-Quinby here edit the 188 ballettes and provide stylish translations into English.

It is difficult to imagine a more exhaustive edition than the one provided here. The edition itself is prefaced by a seventy-page introduction supported by tables that run to a further seventy pages. The introduction takes the reader step by step through the contents, history, and structure of the manuscript. …

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