Internal Difference and the Meanings in the Roman de la Rose

Overview

The Roman de la rose, one of the most important, complex poems of medieval France, has given rise to highly divergent readings since Jean de Meun completed it in the thirteenth century. In Internal Difference and Meanings in the Roman de la rose, one of the foremost authorities on medieval French literature brings his considerable erudition to bear on this classic of medieval romance, illuminating its artistry and controversial morality

Douglas Kelly interprets the Roman de la ...

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Overview

The Roman de la rose, one of the most important, complex poems of medieval France, has given rise to highly divergent readings since Jean de Meun completed it in the thirteenth century. In Internal Difference and Meanings in the Roman de la rose, one of the foremost authorities on medieval French literature brings his considerable erudition to bear on this classic of medieval romance, illuminating its artistry and controversial morality

Douglas Kelly interprets the Roman de la rose in the context of known medieval reading strategies (modus tractandi) elaborated by Jean de Meun himself in the course of the poem. Kelly probes the modes used by Jean, examining the text from their different perspectives and drawing out the multiple readings and allegories present in the poem. He argues that Jean confronts readers with these multiple readings to force them to recognize and ponder the moral implications of the text, and thus to discover their own moral selves by identification, qualification, or distancing.
   
Kelly contrasts the Rose with other works, including models of romance from such forerunners as Ovid and Boethius and writings of medieval critics of the Rose. He looks particularly at the comments of Christine de Pizan, the most outspoken of these critics. Examining both the well-known "Quarrel of the Rose" she started and her writings about the poem, he reveals the complexity and ambivalence of her reception of the Roman de la rose. The confrontation of Jean de Meun and Christine de Pizan, Kelly shows, can be placed in the larger French tradition of moral writing: the moraliste who holds a mirror to human conduct versus the moralisateur who prescribes ideals of conduct.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kelly's interpretation is lucid, elegant, and eminently reasonable."—William W. Kibler, University of Texas at Austin

Booknews
Argues that the 13th-century French poem can best be understood not by trying to resolve or choosing among the diverse meanings within it or among the myriad of interpretations by scholars and medieval and modern readers, but to accept those differences and reflect on our own willingness to accept to reject those meanings as a guide for a love or morality. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299147846
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Kelly is the Julian Harris Professor of French at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many books include The Art of Medieval French Romance and Medieval Imagination: Rhetoric and the Poetry of Courtly Love, both published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
1 Sources and Implied Audiences 12
2 The Literal Texts: Language and Letter 30
3 The Scientific and Philosophical Modes of Treatment 52
4 The Poetic and Rhetorical Modes of Treatment 92
5 Allegories, Moral Issues, and Audiences 131
Conclusion: Jean de Meun as Moraliste 152
Notes 161
Bibliography 187
Index 209
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