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Memory And Re-creation In Troubadour Lyric
by Amelia Eileen Van Vleck
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In spite of the fame of individual singers, many of whose names are legendary, the songs of the troubadours often come to us in multiple versions, each with a different sequence of stanzas. What accounts for this variability? Authorial self-effacement might explain why much anonymous medieval poetry was "reworked," but Amelia Van Vleck argues that this answer will not suffice when the author of the song is well known and admired.
Van Vleck outlines a new way of reading troubadour lyric by questioning the belief that chansonniers were compiled from song-sheets tracing back to written "authorized" copies. She challenges the very appropriateness of a concept of "text" as applied to troubadour lyric. Instead of superimposing a nineteenth-century notion of "lyric poetry" on these songs, reading them as "perfect" texts and attempting to re-establish an "authentic" version through textual criticism, we must, she claims, become aware of these songs as potential performances with moveable parts, each version a realization of the whole song. Van Vleck concludes that it was primarily the voice, not the pen, that created (and re-created) this innovative body of poetry that forms the very foundation of the Western European lyric.
From the Inside Flap
"Extremely important . . . timely; the position it takes, the issues it raises, the problems it faces involve a revolution in modern critical reading of the troubadour lyric; the implications are significant not only for understanding Old Provençal poetry, but also in the study of the medieval vernacular lyric in general."--Rupert Pickens, editor of The Songs of Jaufré Rudel
From the Back Cover
"Extremely important . . . timely; the position it takes, the issues it raises, the problems it faces involve a revolution in modern critical reading of the troubadour lyric; the implications are significant not only for understanding Old Provenal poetry, but also in the study of the medieval vernacular lyric in general." (Rupert Pickens, editor of The Songs of Jaufr Rudel)
About the Author
Amelia E. Van Vleck is Assistant Professor of French at the University of Texas, Austin.
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