Building the Text: Architecture as Metaphor in Late Medieval and Early Modern France

By David Grant Cowling | Go to book overview

4
'COLLOQUERONS CEANS LE SIEN YMAGE': ARCHITECTURAL METAPHORS FOR THE MIND AND MEMORY

Mon advis est qu'on doit preconizer
Ses nobles faictz et les solennizer
Et son nom mectre en nostre digne livre,
Voire et affin que honneur grant on luy livre
Colloquerons ceans le sien ymage,
Comme celuy qui est digne de hommage.
1

Jean Bouchet's Bonne Renommée seeks to honour the poet's dead patron Charles de La Trémoille with the ultimate accolade in the rhétoriqueur arsenal of praise: incorporation in a building, her temple. Yet this conventional encomiastic gesture is here couched in language that appears to recall the fundamental components of the Ciceronian 'art of memory', the places (loci) and images (imagines) upon whose successful combination memorization depends. Given the privileged status of the building in classical, and classically inspired, artificial memory schemes, and the proliferation of allegories of architecture in the literature of the later Middle Ages in France, it is not unreasonable to look for some link between memorization techniques current in the teaching of rhetoric and the didactic intention of rhétoriqueur writers anxious to transmit a moral or political message to their readers in an easily digestible and memorable form. Hard evidence to support this hypothesis is, however, more difficult to generate. Does Bouchet reveal, by his reuse of the distinctive terminology of artificial memory, the conceptual framework that subtends his and other rhétoriqueurs' architectural fictions? Are textual buildings designed to function as ready-made schemes of

____________________
1
Jean Bouchet, Le Temple de Bonne Renommée, ed. G. Bellati ( Milan: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 1992), 358, ll.4786-91 (emphasis added). Further references will be incorporated into the text.

-109-

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