Buddy Read - Roman de la Rose

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Buddy Read - Roman de la Rose

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 13, 12:50 am

Dilara86 and I are going to give the medieval Roman de la Rose a chance.

Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose) is a medieval poem written in Old French. It was written in two stages by two authors. Guillaume de Lorris wrote 4,058 verses, circa 1230, set in a walled garden, about a courtier wooing his beloved. Jean de Meun wrote a much longer second part around 1275, 17,724 more lines. He expanded on the philosophical allegory, with characters named Reason, Friend, Nature, Genius, etc, providing "in encyclopedic breadth...the philosophy of love". (quoting Wikipedia)

The Romance had a major influence on late medieval/early Renaissance poetry, including on Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Geoffrey Chaucer, who made an early translation into English before writing his more famous works.

helmikuu 13, 12:48 am

Anyone is welcome to join. We are reading in different languages. I'm using a modern English translation, The Romance of the Rose (Oxford World's Classics), translated by Frances Horgan. Dilara is using a translation into modern French. The Oxford edition has chapters, but the French edition does not, although Dilara is mostly able to match the breaks. I used the chapters to put together a schedule, assuming a March 1 start date, but it's just a guideline.

Loose schedule based on The Romance of the Rose (Oxford World's Classics):

March 7 (Guillaume de Lorris's contribution)
Chapter 1 pages 3-21 - The Garden of Pleasure
Chapter 2 pages 22-42 - The Spring of Narcissus
Chapter 3 pages 43-61 - Hope and Despair

March 14
Chapter 4 pages 62-110 - The Advice of Reason

March 21
Chapter 5 pages 111-153 - The Advice of Friend
Chapter 6 pages 154-190 - The Army of Love

March 28
Chapter 7 pages 191-224 - The Advice of the Old Woman
Chapter 8 pages 225-245 - The Assault of the Castle

April 4
Chapter 9 pages 246-258 - Nature and Genius
Chapter 10 pages 259-299 - Nature’s Confession

April 11
Chapter 11 pages 300-318 - The Sermon of Genius
Chapter 12 pages 319-335 - The Conquest of the Rose

helmikuu 14, 3:30 am

Excellent! Thank you for setting up the thread :-) I'm looking forward to this, and if anybody is interested, please join us.

helmikuu 16, 3:53 am

Today's bit of trivia: I learnt yesterday that Le roman de la rose contains the earliest recorded use of the French word for hazelnut ("noisette"). I dare say there are many other such firsts in this book, given its length and date, but this one happened to be on the French Wikipedia page for hazelnut, which I read yesterday (because it was the day of the hazel in the revolutionary calendar).

helmikuu 16, 8:37 am

That’s cool. Now I’m craving Nutella.

Ok, I’m very entertained by the Revolutionary Calendar. I had never heard of this.

helmikuu 16, 12:44 pm

>5 dchaikin: "Now I’m craving Nutella."

I almost spat my tea :) In my defence, I almost always crave Nutella...

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 3:18 am

>5 dchaikin: I have been mocked for my "obsession" with the revolutionary calendar - I check it most days -but clearly, I'm not the only one: my son-in-law downloaded an app that tells you which day of the RC it is each day... I find it more poetic and relevant to my life than the standard saints calendar. By the way, April 20th is the Day of the Rose :-)

Here are a few links about Le roman de la rose I've bookmarked these last few weeks:
Some of the poems sung in Old French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-AfxW7lSkg - I can also stream it from my library website, where it says the music is by Monteverdi
French Wikipedia article about the Old French language: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancien_fran%C3%A7ais (TLDR; a final S is only consistently used as a plural marker for feminine words (it can also be used in the masculine singular subject case), "li" is the masculine article used for subject cases "le" is used for regime cases.)
Online glossary: http://micmap.org/dicfro/introduction/glossaire-roman-de-la-rose (Old French > French)

1974 France Culture radio program with historian Jacques Le Goff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D8bPdI16YY (in French - haven't listened to it yet)
2012 Bibliothèque Nationale de France interview with Michel Zinc (who wrote the introduction to my copy of Le roman de la rose): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t01K7XKoQ-c (in French - haven't listened to it yet)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 3:44 am

Well, I finished a short guide to Le roman de la rose written by Armand Strubel, the academic who introduced, translated and wrote the footnotes for the version I am reading. It's called Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meun, Le Roman de la rose and I can't say I'd recommend it to others at this stage. They read like notes he might have written to himself or a collaborator in the know, and never coalesced into a clear whole.
One anecdote: the author mentions Luciano Rossi's theory that Jean de Meun could have written both parts - the one attributed to Guillaume de Lorris as juvenilia, and then later, the second part, under his own name. He obviously points out that this is unverifiable, but goes on to write the author's name "Guillaume" in inverted commas in the rest of the book.

To give a taste of the Old French, here are the first 10 verses, followed by their translation in modern French. I'd be curious to know how they were rendered in English!

Ci commence li romanz de la rose.

Maintes genz cuident qu'en songe
N'ait se fable non et mençonge.
Mais on puet tel songe songier
Qui ne sont mie mençongier,
Ainz sont aprés bien aparent.
Si em puis traire a garant
Un auctor qui ot non Macrobes,
Qui ne tint pas songes a lobes,
Ançois escrit l'avison
Qui avint au roi Scipion.

And in modern French:

Ici commence le roman de la rose.

Nombreux sont ceux qui s'imaginent que dans les rêves il n'y a que fables et mensonges. Pourtant, il est possible de faire des rêves qui ne soient pas mensongers, mais qui par la suite se vérifient tout à fait. Je puis en prendre pour caution un auteur qui s'appelait Macrobe, qui ne prenait pas les rêves pour des chimères : au contraire, il a écrit la vision qu'eut le roi Scipion.

At this stage, I couldn't read the whole original version on its own - some of the verses are easily parsed, but others aren't and there are always false friends. The translation is very useful.

maaliskuu 2, 9:44 am

Interesting. Record of "Guillaume" doesn’t exist outside this text, so his true existence open to ideas. I will start either this evening or tomorrow. And I’ll post the English translation of those lines when have some time.

maaliskuu 3, 9:23 pm

>8 Dilara86: France Horgan’s version:
Some say that there is nothing in dreams but lies and fables; however, one may have dreams which are not in the least deceitful, but which later become clear. In support of this fact, I can cite an author named Macrobius, who did not consider that dreams deceived, but wrote of the vision that came to King Scipio.

maaliskuu 3, 9:47 pm

Some noted I took while reading the introduction:

- Macrobius is mentioned up front and an important influence. He wrote a commentary on Cicero’s Dream of Scipio in the 300’s, so serves as an authority on dream visions.

“Macrobius does not offer an exhaustive comment of the text of Cicero, but expounds a series of theories on the dreams from neoplatonic background, on the mystic properties of the numbers, on the nature of the soul, on astronomy and on music.” (Wikipedia)

So we’re into academic Neoplatonic philosophy.

Macrobius called erotic dreams nightmares (insomnium) and not worth interpreting. This work is, of course, an erotic dream vision.

The Dream of Scipio by Cicero “is the sixth book of De republica, and describes a (postulated fictional or real) dream vision of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus, set two years before he oversaw the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC.” (Wikipedia)

- - -

De arte honeste amandi - The Art of True Love - by Andreas Capellanus in the 1100’s was another major influence.

- - -

Horgan says in the transition from Guillaume to Jean - “we move from the court to the university, from the dreamlike stillness of the garden of Pleasure … to an atmosphere of robust academic debate…”

Horgan suggests G was writing on the art of courtly love, whereas J wrote a thorough critique of courtly love. She calls him possibly “anti-Guillaume”

Reason is very different in the two parts
- G uses Reason as the voice of reason within the lover
- J’s Reason is philosophical and thorough.

Friend is also different
- G’s Friend encourages lightly improper behaviors
- J Friend is full of cynicism, and includes a misogynist indictment of marriage

False Seeming is J’s spokesman! Within the University of Paris politics there was a conflict between secular and friar (religious) school masters. False Seeming is used to examine these. Most of False Seemings arguments come from De periculis novissimum temporum - On the Perils of Last Days - by Guillaume de Saint-Amour (d. 1272). This work was condemned by the pope in 1256 leading to Guillaume de Saint-Amour’s exile from France. (Not to be confused with Guillaume de Lorris)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 6, 3:25 am

>10 dchaikin: This translation is quite close to the Modern French prose translation! It looks very readable, which is nice, but part of me is sad that the alliteration and pun between "songes" (dreams) and "mensonges" (lies) are lost, although it was inevitable...

>11 dchaikin: I have notes from the introduction I read, which I'll post later as they could complement >11 dchaikin: nicely.

First, I'd like to start a list of characters/personifications/allegories in French and English so I know which is which... Incidently, their names are capitalised in Modern French, in line with modern conventions, but not in Old French, which is disconcerting...

Raison = Reason
Faux Semblant = False Seeming
oiseuse = Oiseuse = Idleness
deduiz = Déduit = Pleasure
leesce = Liesse = Joy

Oiseuse is the lady who opens the door into the garden to the narrator. What is her name in English? The footnote explains that the word (which means "idle" in Modern French) did not have necessarily negative connotations in Medieval times - it's linked to the latin concept of "otium". Basically, Oiseuse is a "lady of leisure".

Déduit - the lord in the garden - is another interesting word. "Déduit" is the transposition into Modern French of the Old French word deduiz, and is not actually in use anymore. We would use "divertissement" (leisure), although this word does not evoke the pleasures of love and hunting in the way that "deduiz" does.

maaliskuu 5, 7:29 pm

The problem words are really interesting.

Oiseuse is translated as Idleness. I assumed it had a negative connotation, as in she was too lazy to keep out a straggler. Interesting. The lord of the garden is translated at Pleasure. And Joy his singing partner.

maaliskuu 6, 3:41 am

>13 dchaikin: Thanks!
There are so many birds - especially song birds - in the garden! Funnily enough, I've recently finished a book about urban animals that contains attempts at writing down bird songs (tweet, prrrruit, kak kak - you know how it goes) to help us recognise them - it does nothing for me... I've been meaning to look up bird songs on YouTube instead.

The various dancers (Youth, Joy, Courtesy - all aristocratic virtues...) inside the garden are the opposites of the negative images on the outside wall. Together, they give us a good overview of the author's way of looking at the world and judging it. Youth worshipping is clearly nothing new!

maaliskuu 6, 11:51 am

>14 Dilara86: there is a great iPhone app called BirdNET to identify birds by recording their song.

I don’t think I will read along with you but I’ll be following your discussion with interest!

maaliskuu 7, 12:12 am

>15 FlorenceArt: fun! I should look up BirdNet for my walks.

There are so many birds. I was impressed. Funny side note, but I'm listening to Rachel Carson's first book, Under the Sea Wind, and she also talks about a whole lot of different birds, and she chaptered the sounds in text, and the audio reader, in a soothing voice, pauses to relish making Carson's version of these gawking bird sounds, drawing them out.

I thought the garden wall was funny. It's a gorgeous, and there's this pristine mountain stream, and a lovely garden... with Hate painted on it. I agree the wall seems to be the opposite of what's inside.

I've read through the first 3 chapters, Guillaume de Lorris's unfinished contribution (Horgan says this was a thing, leaving these works unfinished). It's quite lovely, but goes much slower than I anticipated, as I keep trying to slow down so I don't overlook these various entertaining lines. This feels like an author openly having fun, toying with known ideas, and playing games with what is and isn't appropriate. The sexual inuendoes are quite graphic, but also coded in clean chaste surface meanings.

Chapter 1: the introduction to this dream world Eden. I was charmed. I found the two ladies with the swaying kiss dance were quite elegant.

Chapter 2: I enjoyed the Narcissus story, and I was entertained on how Love stalks our youth, and shoots him not once, but five times. I found Love's spiel long and little hard to maintain concentration on. But noted several quotes, and I loved the bit about a lover not being able to talk to his beloved because he will be too worked up..."unless he were a deceiver"

Chapter 3: The world of the rose, the charming not particularly effective guardians, and the fortification. I was kind of charmed by Rebuff being susceptible to flattery.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 7, 5:37 am

>15 FlorenceArt: I "need" this!

>16 dchaikin: It look like you might be further along than I am. I am just past the Narcissus and the Love Fountain episodes.
I thought the descriptions of the garden were lovely. They remind me of the medieval gardens I've visited. I am less taken with the way every dancer is described as beautiful and well-dressed. I understand that it is par for the course with this genre, but it gets repetitive after a while.

The sexual inuendoes are quite graphic, but also coded in clean chaste surface meanings.
I snorted a couple of times! I also found the description of the rosebud on a long stalk and the way the narrator is shot by the god of Love quite homoerotic, especially since they come right after the Narcissus tangent.

ETA: There are definite hints of Botticelli's Spring in the dance description, which is nice.

maaliskuu 7, 1:56 pm

It's funny how Southern the garden is, given that Guillaume was from Lorris in the Loire Valley, not renowned for their olive and fig trees! According to Wikipedia, he was a protégé of Alphonse de Poitiers, who in Guillaume's lifetime lived mainly in Paris and Poitiers - North of the Garonne in any case. You can tell that the tropes of Amour courtois were all taken from Ovid, troubadours and Arabic sources - so firmly Mediterranean.
I'll post a photo of Poitiers Castle's Great Hall over at Litsy.

maaliskuu 7, 2:27 pm

>17 Dilara86: homoerotic - it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Interesting!

>18 Dilara86: interesting. I’m wondering what you mean by “Southern”. Southern France? Africa? I haven’t heard the name Alphonse de Poitiers. Personally, I picked up on some middle eastern plants, but I had assumed they were exotic plans within a mostly French garden. But I really couldn’t tell. I’m not very attuned to where various plants and birds are found.

maaliskuu 7, 2:44 pm

Sorry, I should have specified - I meant Southern France. French regions close to the Mediterranean such as Provence, where olive trees grow naturally. Having said that, some of the plants mentioned, such as date palms, don’t grow in mainland France. It really is a dream garden...

maaliskuu 7, 4:25 pm

>20 Dilara86: thanks. i need to work on my French geography. 🙂

maaliskuu 8, 10:53 am

I think I'm reading Jean de Meun now - the book doesn't specify it, but there is a change in tone and the episode where the God of Love used his key to lock the narrator's heart seems a likely ending to the first part.

I've just read the bit comparing love to having your heart wrapped in bacon and fried - that made me chuckle!

Et saches que dou resgarder
Feras ton cuer frire et larder,
Et tout ades en resgardant,
Aviveras le feu ardant,
Que cil qui aime plus resgarde,
Plus alume son cuer et l'arde ;
Cist larz alume et fet larder
Le feu qui fet la gent amer.

And in Modern French

et sache qu'à force de regarder ce sera comme si tu faisais frire ton cœur et le bardais de lard, et aussi longtemps que tu la contempleras, tu attiseras le feu ardent, car celui qui aime, plus il regarde, plus il allume son cœur et le "barde". Ce lard, c'est ce qui allume et fait griller le feu qui rend les gens amoureux.

It sounded very prosaic and earthy and "off the cuff" to me, but the footnote explains that it's actually 1) based on the Amour courtois cliché of the burning love, and 2) a pun on lard (bacon) and l'arde (burning - think "ardent"). Now I know where Clément Marot (or as I like to call him, The Dad Joke Poet) found his inspiration...

maaliskuu 8, 11:56 am

I would have missed the pun! That’s funny. But I think you’re still with Guillaume. The god of Loves spiel is all Guillaume in the early part. Do you have line numbers? He wrote through line 4,058.

maaliskuu 8, 1:52 pm

Yikes! I really am slow then... I'm on line 2870, but I should get 45 minutes' worth of reading tonight.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 8, 2:46 pm

>24 Dilara86: no worries. It actually reads a lot slower for me than I anticipated. I would be deep into it, and an hour later have read ten pages. 🙂 But I’ve pausing to focus on Native Son. I’ll pick it back up this weekend.

maaliskuu 10, 1:47 am

>25 dchaikin: Thanks! I'll hop over to your thread to see how you are getting on with Native Son. I started it in... 2015 it looks like! but it was such a painful, gut-wrenching read, I couldn't go on. I've been meaning to pick it up again at some point, but haven't yet.

I've changed tack with Le roman de la rose. Parsing the Old French octosyllables takes too long and I do want to finish the book before summer! So, I am now reading the Modern French version directly, and only looking at the Old French from time to time, for fun. This is speeding things up. I'm on to verse 4100. It looks like Jean de Meun's section might be a bit denser than Guillaume's, so that might slow me down again though.

I found Guillaume de Lorris's part surprisingly modern - or maybe its subject is timeless? - and very pleasant to read. My modern sensibilities weren't too sorely tried, although I wished he didn't portray commoners as bestial, ugly and devious, with all virtues going to noble lords and ladies! The men as lovers, women (or roses!) as objects tropes were there, but I feel they weren't too overwhelming, and there was some room for universal, non-gendered feelings. Guillaume has a light touch generally. The one "drive-by" homophobic line came as a bit of a surprise (and felt half-hearted) after so much homoerotic goings-on (although that might me in my mind only, since it didn't jump out to you).

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 12:43 pm

Here's a delightful description of love that starts with verse 4290. Clichéed? Yes, probably, but also playful, alliterative (in the original at least, which is just about guessable if you know French) and so satisfying to read!

Amours ce est pays hayneuse,
Amours est hayne amoreuse,
C'est loiautez la desloiaus,
Ce est desloiautez loiaus,
C'est paours toute asseüree,
C'est esperance desesperee,
C'est raisons toute forsenable,
C'est forsenerie raisnable,
C'est douz periz a soi noier
Grief fais legier a palmoier
C'est Caripdis la perilleuse
Desagreable et gracieuse,
C'est langors toute santeïve,
C'est santez toute maladive,
C'est fain saoule en abondance,
C'est convoiteuse souffisance
C'est la soif qui touz jors est yvre,
Yvrece qui tous jours enyvre,
C'est faus deliz, c'est tristour lie,
C'est leece la corroucie ;
Douz maus, douceur malicieuse,
Douce savor mal savoreuse,
Entechiez de pardon pechiez,
De pechiez pardons entechiez ;
C'est paine qui trop est joieuse,
C'est felonnie la piteuse,
C'est li geus qui n'est pas estables,
Estaz trop forz et trop muables

ETA: Here's a reading with an attempt at a reconstructed accent https://youtu.be/T-AfxW7lSkg?t=2442 - very fun

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 11, 4:43 am

I read the pages about friendship yesterday. They were lovely and funnily enough, they sort of echoed the French zeitgeist, with Geoffroy de Lagasnerie (such a medieval-sounding name BTW!) doing the media rounds to talk about his last book, Une aspiration au dehors : éloge de l'amitié, about his deep friendship with Didier Eribon and Edouard Louis. The Guardian had an article about it.

The bit about fair-weather friends made me think of Rutebeuf, a famous French medieval poet (in fact, the only one - I think - still widely quoted today) who, I learned in the book's introduction, was on the same side as Jean de Meun in the Mendicant orders quarrel that you mentioned in >11 dchaikin:

The poem I am thinking of, in modernised French: La Complainte de Rutebeuf (Que sont mes amis devenus)

Que sont mes amis devenus
Que j'avais de si près tenus
Et tant aimés
Ils ont été trop clairsemés
Je crois le vent les a ôtés
L'amour est morte
Ce sont amis que vent me porte
Et il ventait devant ma porte
Les emporta

Avec le temps qu'arbre défeuille
Quand il ne reste en branche feuille
Qui n'aille à terre
Avec pauvreté qui m'atterre
Qui de partout me fait la guerre
Au temps d'hiver
Ne convient pas que vous raconte
Comment je me suis mis à honte
En quelle manière

Que sont mes amis devenus
Que j'avais de si près tenus
Et tant aimés
Ils ont été trop clairsemés
Je crois le vent les a ôtés
L'amour est morte
Le mal ne sait pas seul venir
Tout ce qui m'était à venir
M'est advenu

Pauvre sens et pauvre mémoire
M'a Dieu donné, le roi de gloire
Et pauvre rente
Et droit au cul quand bise vente
Le vent me vient, le vent m'évente
L'amour est morte
Ce sont amis que vent emporte
Et il ventait devant ma porte
Les emporta

Here's a link to Poor Rutebeuf - a translation of the "mashup" of a couple of Rutebeuf poems - including the one above - by Léo Ferré on allpoetry.com (I couldn't find a translation of the original Complainte de Rutebeuf online - the Léo Ferré version just swamps everything: Joan Baez sung it and here's Léo Ferré in black and white)

Right now, I feel like I am back in philosophy class in the last year of secondary school, learning about the Greek typology of love (eros - passionate love, philia - deep friendship, agapê - all-encompassing love...)

maaliskuu 11, 2:51 pm

>26 Dilara86: you’re ahead of me now. :)

I enjoyed Guillaume. His sense of class and gender and morality is traditional, but he’s always playful and light and romantic.

>27 Dilara86: i’ll have to see what Horgan makes of this. Google translate just sort of surrendered.

>28 Dilara86: this poem I can translate! I’ll have to hop through those links. Very cool that we’re in this medieval academic debate and our professors are playing it out through love poetry.

maaliskuu 11, 2:53 pm

I enjoyed Baez’s take 🙂

maaliskuu 12, 8:58 am

>29 dchaikin: i’ll have to see what Horgan makes of this.
I'd like to know :-)

Google translate just sort of surrendered.
Out of curiosity, I fed the exerpt to Google Translate. That's good for a laugh!

Loves, it's hay country,
Amours is amorous hayne,
It's lawlessness,
This is desloiautes loiaus,
It's quite sure,
It's hopeless hope,
These are all forensic reasons,
It's reasonable forsenery,
It's a dozen periz to drown yourself
Grievance do light to palm tree
It's Caripdis the perilous
Unpleasant and graceful,
It's langors all santeïve,
It's healthy all sickly,
It's drunk in abundance,
It's covetous sufficiency
It is thirst that is always drunk,
Yvrece which intoxicates every day,
It's fau deliz, it's tristour lie,
It is leece the corroucie;
Douz maus, mischievous sweetness,
Sweet savor savory,
Forgive, sin,
From sin pardons entechiez;
It is pain that is too joyful,
It's felony the pitiful,
It is li geus which is not stable,
Estaz too forz and too mutable

It actually got some of it right. What I don't understand is why it translated "Amours" as "Loves" in the first line, and kept "Amours" in the second...

maaliskuu 12, 9:21 am

maaliskuu 12, 11:58 am

Horgan’s version, all prose

Love is hostile peace and loving hatred, disloyal loyalty and loyal disloyalty; it is confident fear and desperate hope, demented reason and reasonable madness. It is the sweet danger of drowning and a heavy burden that is easy to handle; it is perilous Charybdis, disagreeable and gracious at the same time; it is a most healthful sickness and a most sickly health; a hunger abundantly satisfied and a covetous affiuence, a thirst that is always drunk, an intoxication drunk with thirst. It is a false delight, a joyful sorrow and an unhappy joy, a sweet torment and an unkind sweetness, a taste at once pleasant and distasteful; it is a sin touched by pardon and a pardon tainted by sin, a most joyful suffering and a merciful cruelty. It is an ever-shifting game, a state which is very firm but also very changeable, (Middle French above stops here) an infirm strength and a strong infirmity that sets everything in motion through its efforts, a foolish sense and a wise folly, a sad and joyful prosperity; it is laughter that sobs and weeps, repose that toils unceasingly, a hell that soothes and a heaven that tortures, a prison that offers relief to prisoners, a cold and wintry springtime. It is a moth that refuses nothing and consumes purple and homnespun alike, for lovemaking is no better in fine clothes than in homespun. No one has been found who is so highly born, so wise, of such proven strength or courage, or so virtuous in other respects that Love has not conquered him. The whole wordd treads that path, for he is the god who leads everyone astray except those excommunicated by Genius because their evil ways are an offence against Nature.

maaliskuu 12, 3:18 pm

I maybe should add that this is the voice of Reason, said in the midst of castigating our youth for falling in love. 🙂

maaliskuu 14, 5:03 am

Where are you in the book right now?

maaliskuu 14, 12:22 pm

>35 Dilara86: I’m in the Reason dialogue. Reason is saying she should be the youth’s lover with a flat passion unaffected by fortune. She just told how Nero executed Seneca. I’m hoping to finish this section tomorrow. 🙂 How is your progress?

maaliskuu 15, 8:34 am

“Moreover, I consider it most shameful that, knowing as you do the importance of education and the necessity of study, and having studied Homer, you should not remember him; but it seems you have forgotten him. Is this not vain and futile exertion? You study books and then forget everything through your negligence. What is the use of all your study, if entirely through your own fault, the meaning of it fails you when you need it?”

- Beginning at line 6747

- Homer was long lost to Europe when this was written

maaliskuu 15, 1:46 pm

>36 dchaikin: I've started the advice of Friend.
I'm just past the discussion on vulgar and direct language, which was fun. I don't think I've ever read the words "couille" and "couillon" (balls) so many times in so few pages... I am wondering how many of those debates we've had over the centuries in Western history, and when the first one was. They seem to be a recurring theme... I am thinking of Villon, Rabelais, even Racine...

>37 dchaikin: Yes, the footnotes insist that most of the references are second-hand, and sometimes unreliable.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 15, 2:04 pm

>38 Dilara86: very Monty Python. I pictured that acted out - Reason repeating “testicles” etc over and over, straight faced. Our youth blushing and gasping. I plan to hold off on Friend till the weekend. I finished Reason today.

I was selected for a jury today. 🙁 A 3-day trial.

maaliskuu 15, 2:57 pm

So the translator used the word "testicle"? The French was a tad more earthy...
I'll pause the Roman for a few days and switch to Syrian poetry.
Good luck for jury duty. I hope it's nothing too bleak.

maaliskuu 19, 1:14 pm

I’m trying to get through Friend. Long misogynist spiel by a conceptual husband. Currently at line ~9400.

maaliskuu 19, 3:00 pm

You're ahead of me now. I'll get back to Friend tomorrow morning (I'm planning on finishing my other book tonight).

maaliskuu 22, 4:00 am

>41 dchaikin: Is the misogynist spiel the one by Jealousy? This is so odd, with so many contradictions! And all the clichés about women and relationships still around today are there, bolstered by Greek and Latin authors. This is also the case with Friend's "pick up artist" advice. Nothing new under the sun, it seems. Except today's wooing may not involve a long list of fruit as suitable presents for your Lady :-D

maaliskuu 23, 2:22 pm

So, I've read both Jealousy's looong rant, and Friend's advice. They're clearly opposing views, but I was led to believe that Friend's pages "undid" the misogyny in Jealousy's verses, and I'm far from convinced. None of them see women as "people" and Friend's advice drips with condescension. I haven't read Christine de Pisan's letters about the treatment of women in Le Roman de la Rose (they started one of the first "literary quarrels" in history) yet (I am planning on reading Le débat sur le Roman de la rose at some point) but it looks like I might agree with her !

The god of Love and his friends are getting ready to storm the castle! How exciting!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 3:30 pm

Hi. Trying to post again, but I clicked something on my keyboard and this whole page closed, taking my post with it.

So I lost posted on my chapter 5. And I'm seeing something is way different between our editions. I'll get back to this. Just first want to mention that I've read four more chapters - Chapter 6 - The Army of Love (lines 9990 - 12350), Chapter 7 - The Advice of the Old Woman (lines 12351 - 14516), Chapter 8 - The Assault of the Castle (lines 14517 - 15860), and Chapter 9 - Nature and Genius (lines 15861- 16690). I'm now on Chapter 10 where nature begins her confession by summarizing medieval European astronomy.

So, first, our difference. Before Love's Army is collected together, I have a long spiel spoken by Friend, but mostly he is quoting an imagined controlling husband (lines 8425 - 9460). It's this husband that says all these terribly things about women and his presumably cheating wife. He may -be- jealous, but he's not the character Jealousy. Jealousy is in charge of the fortress that has locked up Fair Welcome and hasn't appeared since Fair Welcome was locked up. It seems that in your edition someone named Jealousy is giving this spiel. Let me know if you can make any sense of that.

ETA some line numbers

huhtikuu 2, 4:21 pm

A list of thoughts on these chapters:

I didn't care much for this spiel by husband/Jealousy, although it has a few entertaining lines. This is followed by a history of treachery, which is given as beginning with the first ships - that is trade brings treachery.

The part on Love's army has a lot of interesting aspects.
- Here is where Guillamume de Lorris is named (around line 10500) as the youth and where Jean de Meung names himself as somehow taking over the dream vision is an awkward phrasing
- And here is where False Seeming gives his spiel. False Seeming is an awkward member of Love's army, but also provides an unromantic and honest commentary on life. He talks about the "Eternal Gospel", a reference to Evangelium Aeternum, a medieval text which was pushed as superseding the New Testament(!) And finally he gives a great line. When Love questions False Seeming as to how he can know that they can trust him, False Seeming replies, "Take the risk, for if you require sureties, you will not be more secure as a result."
- and, of course, this is where False Seeming and Constrained Abstinence capture Evil Tongue, cut out his tongue and then execute him.

The Advice of Old Woman comes next. With Evil Tongue gone, everyone loosens up and Old Woman can be kind to imprisoned Fair Welcome. She gives him a long sequence of advice on love. Fair Welcome is man, but her advice is directed towards women. I was a little surprised by her advice. For her, love is a transaction, and woman should use love to get the most out of men they can get, and even, after marriage, should continue to offer sex to other men in ways carefully calculated to get more stuff. Her strategy is to keep men interested and offering without committing - "When she hears her lover's request, she must take care not to give him all her love too hastily, nor should she altogether refuse it. Instead she should keep him in suspense between fear and hope" (line ~13633). Personally, I found he context interesting but the speech a bit long and tiresome.

After all this, Love's army attacks the castle and are fought off. They fail, Venus, distracted by Adonis, sues for peace.

The last chapter I read was Nature appealing to Genius, apparently a Catholic priest. Here our author talks about Death and how life avoids death long enough to recreate. And then he talks about art trying and failing to imitate nature. (I would be interested to hear responses from contemporary artists on this section.) Finally, Genius speaks and says, basically, don't confess anything to your wife, because women are bad and will try to get these secrets and, Delila-like, ruin their male partners.

huhtikuu 3, 4:48 am

I gave up on reading the book itself, so it’s funny reading your commentaires. I am utterly confused, but also having fun, so don’t mind me ;-)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 12:26 pm

>45 dchaikin: He may -be- jealous, but he's not the character Jealousy.
You're right - I conflated Jealousy and the jealous husband.

And you're ahead of me again: I've reached verse 11850.

It's a bit depressing how False Seeming and also, earlier, Friend, seem to think everyone is corrupt(ible).

huhtikuu 3, 12:27 pm

>47 FlorenceArt: Happy to entertain :-D

huhtikuu 3, 1:40 pm

>48 Dilara86: ”It's a bit depressing how False Seeming and also, earlier, Friend, seem to think everyone is corrupt(ible).”

bloody cynics. 🙂

Glad we figured out the jealous husband bit.

>47 FlorenceArt: well. Enjoy. Nice having you hanging out here.

huhtikuu 5, 4:21 am

>46 dchaikin: I was a little surprised by her advice. For her, love is a transaction, and woman should use love to get the most out of men they can get, and even, after marriage, should continue to offer sex to other men in ways carefully calculated to get more stuff. Her strategy is to keep men interested and offering without committing
We can definitely add her to the list of bloody cynics!
A few years ago (in the early noughties, perhaps?), a self-help book with roughly the same advice hit the best-seller list. I wished I could remember the title. Anyway, it looks like some ideas best forgotten still get recycled...

Speaking of recycling, the fact that Ronsard was inspired by The Old Woman's advice is unmissable.

Here's a rather archaic translation of his famous poem Mignonne allons voir si la rose from Poemhunter.com (https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-rose-4/ )

See, Mignonne, hath not the Rose,
That this morning did unclose
Her purple mantle to the light,
Lost, before the day be dead,
The glory of her raiment red,
Her colour, bright as yours is bright?

Ah, Mignonne, in how few hours,
The petals of her purple flowers
All have faded, fallen, died;
Sad Nature, mother ruinous,
That seest thy fair child perish thus
‘Twixt matin song and even tide.

Hear me, my darling, speaking sooth,
Gather the fleet flower of your youth,
Take ye your pleasure at the best;
Be merry ere your beauty flit,
For length of days will tarnish it
Like roses that were loveliest.

And the original, from an illustrated anthology of French poems I have

huhtikuu 5, 12:35 pm

Well, that’s lovely.

As for Old Woman, it does help to be practical about these things. 🙂

huhtikuu 5, 12:46 pm

I read Nature’s appeal to Genius, and all her diversions into astronomy, free will and all the sneaky philosophical question of the logic of an all-knowing god. Along with physics (“everything moves towards its beginning”), human equality despite class and heritage, and how everything is corruptible and how humans are the only things that defy Nature’s laws

A few highlights on lady Nature

- she says she is God’s chamberlain. That is that she controls everything except when God interjects

- she lays no claim on Jesus, who “took human flesh” … “Without my help, since I do not know how it was done” … “for nothing can be born of a virgin through my agency“ 🙂

- she ultimately takes the side of the lovers and their pursuit, asking Genius to tell Love, “absolve those worthy folk who willingly make the effort faithfully to observe the rules written in my book by applying themselves energetically to the task of increasing their families and by concentrating on becoming true lovers”

Perhaps I should add some of Nature’s own commentary to out latest avid reader question

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 7, 10:05 am

>53 dchaikin: The bit about the moon made my head hurt!
I've reached verse 17620 and the passage about how if people knew in advance what natural disasters were going to occur, they would act to mitigate its effects! Oh, Jean, you naive, naive man!

ETA: Reading the funny verses about the ice storm knowing that Québec just experienced one of the worst of the last 20 years is a strange feeling.
Here's the passage for Florence ;-)

Ou bien ils fabriqueraient de chaudes étuves où ils pourraient se livrer à leurs danses gaillardes, tout nus, lorsqu'ils verraient le ciel, devenu furieux, jeter des pierres et faire éclater les tempêtes qui tueraient les animaux dans les champs, et les grands fleuves pris dans les glaces. Il ne réussirait pas à les menacer de tempêtes et de glaces, au point de les empêcher de rire de ces menaces et de faire leurs caroles, à l'abri, quittes et exempts des périls ; ils pourraient alors bien se moquer des intempéries.

huhtikuu 7, 10:51 am

>54 Dilara86: Thank you :-)

Which translation are you using? I looked for one a little, but for this kind of book it’s hard to find a decent quality e-book. If it exists, it tends to be hidden in the middle of mediocre editions of 19th century translations.

huhtikuu 7, 11:00 am

>55 FlorenceArt: I am using the Livre de poche's Lettres gothiques edition. I like the fact that it's bilingual, with the original on the left page and a decent modern adaptation on the right. I don't like how thick it is and how small the print is, but at least, it's not too heavy. Some of the footnotes are near incomprehensible, but on the whole, it's fine.

huhtikuu 7, 1:06 pm

>54 Dilara86: I struggled with Nature. Just couldn’t get into it. I had several times where i sat down to read and gave up after about ten minutes…having read maybe 2 pages. But it got easier for me later in her plea.

huhtikuu 8, 1:06 pm

>57 dchaikin: Same here! I don't know how the English translation feels to you, but in French, Nature's verses vary quite a bit. The sermonising can get tiring after a while. Some parts almost read like prose (and non-fiction prose at that), some are quite close to rhyming mnemonics, and some are lyrical poetry. Those are the ones I like best.
I enjoyed the pages about equality between noblemen and poor men. A footnote explained that this was a commonplace idea, also found in classics, and that it echoed the contemporary wrestling for prestige between clerics (so working men) and noblemen. It made a nice contrast to Guillaume's equating of rank and virtue, while peasants were both ugly and dishonest.

And since Easter is tomorrow and the Old French verses about sheep and flowers in meadows are delightful, here are verses 1946 to 1967

Par l'estroite sente serie
Qui toute est florie et herbue,
Tant est pou marchiee et batue,
S'en vont les besteletes blanches,
Bestes debonnaires et franches
Qui l'erbete broutent et paissent
Et les floretes qui la naissent.
Mais sachiez qu'el ont la pasture
De si merveilleuse nature,
Que les delitables floretes
Qui la naissent fraiches et netes
Toutes en leur printens puceles,
Tant sont juenes, tant son noveles,
Comme estoiles reflamboianz
Par les herbages verdoianz
Au matinet a la rousee,
Tant ont toute jour ajournee
De leurs propres biautez naIves
Fines couleurs, fresches et vives,
N'i sont oas au soir enveillies,
Ainz i pueent estres cueillies
Itels le soir comme le main,

Translation into modern French

Par l'étroit sentier paisible qui reste tout fleuri et tout herbeux, tant il est peu foulé et battu, les petites bêtes blanches, animaux débonnaires et nobles, qui broutent et paissent l'herbette et les petites fleurs qui poussent céans. Mais sachez qu'elles jouissent là de pâturages si merveilleux que les délectables petites fleurs qui y naissent fraîches et nettes, comme vierges en leur printemps, tant elles sont jeunes et nouvelles, et qui resplendissent à la rosée du petit matin, comme des étoiles au milieu des herbages verdoyants, même si elles ont prodigué à longueur de journée de pures couleurs, fraîches et vives, grâce à leur beauté naturelle, ne se retrouvent pas vieillies le soir et peuvent, au contraire, être cueillies dans le même état le soir comme le matin (...)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 3:31 pm

very appropriate quote!

I finished last night. I'm thinking about the nature of the playful writing and serious philosophy, and imagining all the philosophy must be playful too... I'm wondering. Two things caught my attention. The discussion on free will seems to logically imply there can be no all-knowing god. And the discussion on the trinity requires a lot of author assurance that what doesn't make sense does really make sense. Maybe he's having fun being confusing.

Have some other thoughts to. It gets quite explicit in its allegory. It gets a little in its monologues. But overall it's playful and that may be its main purpose.

huhtikuu 8, 11:27 pm

>59 dchaikin: I had the feeling many times that Jean was trolling his readers - not necessarily on these two topics, but more generally because of the way he contradicts himself or writes an inflammatory page, or something that might be second degree or ironic! I guess which it was would have been obvious to his peers, but it's less clear to me a few hundred years later. He probably just really liked writing verses on everything and anything. And of course, it's always a good idea to shoehorn the Church's official teachings here and there, to keep them happy, even if it's not clear how it can be reconciled with the rest of the text! Trying to find a coherent whole is pointless...

huhtikuu 9, 11:36 am

I finished the book this morning. I enjoyed it, but I'm also glad I can now move on to something different!

huhtikuu 9, 12:11 pm

>61 Dilara86: 🙂 Well, so it goes. I feel much the same. Thanks for the chats and encouragement.