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The Color of Melancholy: The Uses of Books in the Fourteenth Century (Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society Series)

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In the fourteenth century, French writers saw themselves in the winter of literature, a time for retreat into reflection. They were beset by wars, plague, famine, and social unrest. In the midst of their troubles they made an important discovery: books.

In The Color of Melancholy, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet explores the subject of books and literate culture during the period in which vernacular literature began to displace Latin as the medium of intellectual discourse. Under ...

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Overview

In the fourteenth century, French writers saw themselves in the winter of literature, a time for retreat into reflection. They were beset by wars, plague, famine, and social unrest. In the midst of their troubles they made an important discovery: books.

In The Color of Melancholy, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet explores the subject of books and literate culture during the period in which vernacular literature began to displace Latin as the medium of intellectual discourse. Under the patronage of Charles V, large numbers of Latin texts were translated into French, opening up new contemplations of history, memory, and memorial. The literary heritage of the past was again available and, at the same time, the language of the day was approved not merely as a means of transmission but also for the expression of new ideas, new events, and even the self.

" The Color of Melancholy is a remarkable book, both for its impressive erudition and the rich and original insights it offers into the literary history of the fourteenth century. The book focuses its analysis on a unique and important period in the history of French medieval thought, a period in which we can witness, thanks in large part to the subtle and eloquent text of Cerquiglini, the solidification of the book as a privileged object for the medieval writers and poets, an object that inherits some of its qualities from the earlier devotion to learning in general. It is an original and most needed contribution to the resurgent medieval studies and will prove indispensable for any scholar or student of the medieval period." — Milad Doueihi, The Johns Hopkins University

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Cerquiglini-Toulet (Medieval French literature, U. of Paris-Sorbonne) shows how 14th-century writers were lifted from the gloom of war, plague, famine, and social unrest by the discovery of books, how the vernacular began to replace Latin as the medium of intellectual discourse, and how the translation of a large number of Latin texts revitalized both the literary heritage of the past and the evolving French language. Originally published as lancolie: Le fr<'e>quentum des libres au XIVe si<`e>cle 1300- 1415/> by Hatier, Paris, in 1993. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet is professor of French literature of the Middle Ages at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the author of Guillaume de Machaut et l'écriture au XIVe siècle.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword: The Author, the Book, and Literature
Historical and Literary Chronology of the Fourteenth Century
1 Through the Eyes of a Monk 1
2 At Wits' End: Losing One's Latin 6
3 The Genealogy Hunt 18
4 The Sadness When All Has Been Said 52
5 Matter for Poets 85
6 Companions in Verse, Wine, and Spirit 141
7 A Century's Aged, Worn-out Children 151
Bibliography 159
Index 179
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