Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dynamic Dichotomy: The Poetic 'I' in Fourteenth-And Fifteenth-Century French Lyric Poetry

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dynamic Dichotomy: The Poetic 'I' in Fourteenth-And Fifteenth-Century French Lyric Poetry

Article excerpt

Catherine Attwood, Dynamic Dichotomy: The Poetic `P in Fourteenth- and FifteenthCentury Finch Lyric Poetry, Faux Titre 149 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998). 228 pp. ISBN 90-420-0365-0. NI. G. 70.00.

This study of the poetic `I' in late medieval French poetry focuses on works by Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Eustache Deschamps, Christine de Pizan, Alain Chartier, and Charles d'Orleans. The first chapter outlines the development of courtly lyric in the later Middle Ages, while the last is an examination of debate poetry. The four intervening chapters are devoted, respectively, to Machaut, Froissart, Deschamps, and Christine. Although lyric poetry is the principal focus of the study, Attwood does also consider the use of the first-person discourse in the dit amoureux.

As a distinguishing feature of late medieval lyric, Attwood identifies the manipulation of aesthetic distance separating an implied author from his or her poetic `I'. Unlike early medieval lyric, in which poetic craft, rhetorical skill, and aesthetics were portrayed as the direct expression of personal sentiment and experience, late medieval poets focused on the separation of sentimental experience and poetic production. This tendency manifested itself, for example, in the frequent opposition of clerkly poet and aristocratic lover and in the use of fictional personae who were explicitly differentiated from the poet. Of the poets examined here, only Charles d'Orleans was an aristocrat and not a professional poet. But even Charles established a distinction between poet and amorous protagonist through such devices as the personification of Cuer as a separate entity, with whom the poet could discuss matters of love.

The major poets examined in chapters 2-5 each exemplify a different approach to the opposition of the poetic `I' with some other persona or interlocutor. …

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