Academic journal article Medium Aevum

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

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

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

Article excerpt

Laurence de Looze, Pseudo-autobiography in the Fourteenth Century: Juan Ruin, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart and Geoffrey Chaucer (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 1997). xii + 212 pp. ISBN 0-8130-1507-3. $49.00.

This ambitious study, tackling works in three different languages, builds on the notion of pseudo-autobiography explored by G. B. Gybbon-Moneypenny in his studies of Machaut and Juan Ruiz in the early 1970s. Apart from the chapter devoted to each of the authors considered, the book contains an introduction and conclusion which set the analyses in a context of modern theoretical attitudes to the problematics of the text, the persona of the author and the relationship of fictive to (auto)biographical writing, a bibliography of works cited, and an index. The introduction seeks among other things to classify pseudo-autobiography within a range of 'genres' including autobiography, autobiographical fiction, and autobiographical pseudo-fiction; the distinctions between these different kinds of composition are not always as clear as one might wish. One problem which haunts de Looze throughout the book is that of the identity (or non-identity) of the narrating 'I' with an author, who becomes protagonist of the work, thus closing the autobiographical circle. This affects the interpretation of the Libro de buen amor in chapter I, in which the problems of the so-persona and its relationship to lyric or philosophic discourse are not really confronted; it is particularly evident on p. 53 in the invocation of the author-as-narrator of Le Roman de la Rose, when `Guillaume de Lorris' is specifically, and wrongly, named as narrator of the Rose: the passage cited is that following the end of the `Guillaume de Lorris' section and the naming of Guillaume and Jean de Meun as authors by Amor in a passage which implicitly proclaims the autonomy of the text, since 'I' can be neither the dead Guillaume nor the yetto-be-born Jean. …

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