Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Internal Differences and Meanings in the Roman De la Rose

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Internal Differences and Meanings in the Roman De la Rose

Article excerpt

Douglas Kelly, Internal Differences and Meanings in the Roman de la Rose (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996). x + 228 pp. ISBN 0299-14780-L34.00 (hardcovers); 0-299-14784-3, L16.00 (p/b).

In this book, Douglas Kelly examines the ways in which meaning is generated in Jean de Meun's portion of the Roman de la Rose, a poem that has been subject to divergent readings ever since it was written. Kelly's thesis, outlined in his introduction, is that Jean's Rose forces its reader to acknowledge its diverse meanings and reflect on his or her willingness to accept or reject those meanings as moral guides, a decision that may be based on moral, aesthetic, or even hedonistic grounds. Kelly sees Jean's Rose as a recasting of Guillaume de Lorris's dream through the refracting mirrors of Ovid and Boethius, thereby undercutting Guillaume's courtly idealism. The result can be seen as a Boethian satire on foolish love. This reading, however, is never overtly stated within the poem; it must be constructed through a careful consideration of the text's opposing voices and meanings.

Kelly's approach is based on that of the medieval accessus. He thus first addresses authorial intentions and literal plot before moving on to the main body of his study, an examination of the poem's mod/us tractandi, or modes of treatment. These are divided into the scientific and philosophical modes defining, classificatory, argumentative, and exemplary - and the poetic and rhetorical modes, known in medieval terminology as poeticus, fictivus, descriptive digressive, and transrumptivus. …

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