On Philology (new publications + some thoughts + bonus bibliography on courtly love)

New series: « L’Europe des philologues »; general editor Michel Zink (Collège de France). The first volume of this new series was launched on 1 April, at the Collège de France (Paris):

Gaston Paris – Joseph Bédier. Correspondance
éd. Ursula Bähler et Alain Corbellari
Pub: del Galluzo, Florence.

The Obrienatrix is very excited about this, having just (8 April, Maynooth Medieval and Renaissance Forum) done a talk inc. a first section on Gaston Paris. Said MMRF talk involved a previous work by UB, herewith recommended most thoroughly:

Gaston Paris et la philologie romane
Ursula Bähler
Geneva: Droz, 2004.

Also, a recommendation from a member of the audience (Dr Andrea Robiglio, of the Philosophisches Seminar, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg): Collège de France conference proceedings:

Le Moyen Âge de Gaston Paris
ed. Michel Zink
Paris: Odile Jacob, 2004

I should also point out thay the Bibliothèque Nationale de France have RADICALLY OVERHAULED the Gallica website (digitised documents): and are adding more, at a rapid rate. Here, for example, is nearly all of the journal Romania: Recueil trimestriel consacré à l’étude des langues et des littératures romanes (1872 onwards) – a joy and a delight, and alas the most marvellous earliest volumes are not available in Irish libraries. 10 (1881) and 12 (1883) are heartily recommended to anyone interested in what GP himself actually says about l’amour courtois, as it’s at times quite hilarious to see how badly he has been misread and misrepresented.

This is an important topic, as GP exemplifies the need to read attentively and accurately; and to reread properly, reassess, and rehabilitate in a contextually-sensitive manner. The Obrienaternal scholarly training having been by three notable persons of the very good and hard-nosed school of thought; and Admin being the sort of person who tries to read as much as humanly possible, going back to original primary texts (and back in secondary criticism as far back as it goes), and never ever ever trusting someone else’s view / opinion / judgement / reading. Ever. Whoever they are and whatever sort of Name they might be supposed to be. After all, ad auctoritatem is surely the lowest form of informal fallacy … and insofar as Obrienatrixever falls into it, it is in attending to Aristotle, who happens to have very fine and useful (and, I think, true) things to say on the subject in its intersecting application to rhetoric, ethics, and politics.

Admin gets cross when faced with half-baked second-rate reading, research, and thinking based on a sketchy lazy skim of someone else’s stuff (and has had her fill of such recently, naming no names at a certain recent conference). Obrienatrix gets very cross indeed when the result of such a sorry excuse for scholarship is a perpetuation and compending of errors: ignorance, laziness, arrogance, and pretension being a well-documented lethal mix. 19th c. philology has suffered particularly badly, Paris (père et fils), Bédier, Meyer et al being remarkably prolific readers, editors, and writers; thus an easy target for those lazy snippers of soundbites, incapable and/or incompetent, and certainly not up to reading all these splendid scholars’ own output, let alone the texts on which they were working (let alone the manuscripts, but that’s another story: Come The Revolution, these will all be available for free, digitised, online; and there will be no more reason – let alone excuse – for shoddy work). Such attitudes are perfectly natural and understandable: stemming from fear, a grudging awareness of one’s own limitations but refusal to confront them, jealousy, envy – human, all too human.

We are living in interesting times in more ways than one; after the Death of Theory (verily and forsooth; and with apologies to those who’ve just started a Masters in Critical Theory: you’ve Been Had by the bandwagon-industry), we’re starting to look back over postwar trends in reading – literary criticism amalgamated with theory – to see what the historical patterns might be, and see where they might be going. My eye is on the following strands; my money would be on impending highly innovative and actually creative convergences, conflations, and conjointures (in the sans of Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes):

  • old-school conservative philology and its continuation into electronic philology/digital medievalism
  • New Philology, especially a po-mo knowing self-placement into a long-term, long-distance exegetical continuity – from the Pre-Socratics to Derrida
  • new modes of reading and writing, and their expansion with Web 2.0 (i.e. blogging, wikis, things hyper), and a democratisation spilling over into generalised democratisation of knowledge: the right to access information, combined with reading things oneself and making sense of them oneself. This is already a tricky business, and indeed there is a whole business in mediating and interpreting information. And there will always be lazy people, and the insecure and fearful who need authoritative guiding figures. Some historical parallel might be seen with the 1490s-1520s rough period, and links between early (evangelical/)Protestant/Catholic matters and the first European expansion of printing.
  • gaming: and its connections to reading and imaginative leisure activities

For further reading and your greater delectation, here’s a bibliography on courtly love in medieval literature c/o Obrienatrix’s talk handout. This is not comprehensive, but should give some idea of the evolution of the debate. Of pertinence might be the English material and angle of approach, and the recent (1970s -) misfortune of the culturally colonialist appropriation of much of Medieval Europe by English departments, in Ireland and the UK.

Thus, a second and maybe sort of more purely semantic sub-debate: can we talk about “medieval literature” as one single unified thing, given the geographical, cultural, and chronological divergence and diversity? 14th-15th c . English literature vs. 12th-13th c. Occitan and French vs. 13th-15th c. Catalan and Spanish; vs. 13th c. Italian vs. 14th c. Italian; 1150s-60s French vs. 1180s-90s vs. 1215-1229; and so forth and so on, ad inf.


Allen, Peter B. The Art of Love: Amatory Fiction from Ovid to the Romance of the Rose. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1992.
Auerbach, Erich. Literary Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. Trans. Ralph Mannheim. Princeton: Bollingen, 1965.
—. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1953.
Bähler, Ursula. Gaston Paris et la philology romane. Geneva: Droz, 2004.
Bezzola, Reto R. Les Origines et la formation de la littérature courtoise en Occident (500-1200). Paris: Champion, 1944-63.
Bloch, R. Howard. Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1990.
Boase, R. The Origin and Meaning of Courtly Love. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977.
Camproux, Charles. Le “joy d’amour” du troubadour (jeu et joie d’amour). Montepellier: Causse et Castelnau, 1965.
Cheyette, Fredric L. Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2001.
Cholakian, Rouben Charles. Troubadour Lyric: A Psychocritical Reading. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990.
Curtius, Ernst Robert. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1953.
Denomy, Alexander Joseph. “An Enquiry into the Nature of Courtly Love.” Mediaeval Studies VI (1944): 175-260.
The Heresy of Courtly Love. New York: MacMullen, 1947.
Donaldson, E. Talbot. “The Myth of Courtly Love.” Ventures 5 (1965): 16-23, republished in Speaking of Chaucer (London: Athlone, 1970): 154-63.
Duby, Georges. Medieval Marriage: Two Models from the Twelfth Century. Trans. Elborg Forster. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1978.
Le Chevalier, la femme et le prêtre. Le mariage dans la France féodale. Paris: Hachette, 1981.
Ferrante, Joan M. “Cortes’ Amor in Medieval Texts.” Speculum 55 (1980): 695.
Frappier. Jean. Amour courtois et table ronde. Geneva: Droz, 1973.
Huchet, Jean-Charles. Littérature médiévale et psychanalyse: pour une clinique littéraire. Paris: P.U.F., 1990.
Kay, Sarah. “Courts, Clerks, and Courtly Love.” In The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance. Ed. Roberta L. Krueger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000: 81-96.
Köhler, Erich. Trobador Lyrik und Höfischer Roman. Berlin: Rütter und Loening, 1962.
Kristeva, Julia. “Les Troubadours: du ‘grand chant courtois’ au récit allégorique.” In Histoires d’amour. Paris: Denoël, 1983: 263-76.
Lacan, Jacques. “L’Amour courtois en anamorphose.” In Le Séminaire de Jacques Lacan. Livre VII: L’Éthique de la psychanalyse, 1959-60. Texte établi par Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Le Seuil, 1986: 167-84.
Lazar, Moshé. Amour courtois et “fin’amors” dans la littérature du XIIe siècle. Paris: Klincksieck, 1964.
Le Goff, Jacques. La Civilisation de l’Occident médiéval. Paris: Arthaud, 1964.
Pour un autre Moyen Âge: temps, travail et culture en Occident. Paris: Gallimard, 1977.
Le Goff, Jacques, Roger Chartier, and Jacques Revel, eds. La Nouvelle histoire. Paris: C.E.P.L., 1978.
Lewis, Clive Staples. The Allegory of Love. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1936.
Menocal, María Rosa. The Arabic Role in Medieval Literature: A Forgotten Heritage. Philadephia: U Pennsylvania P, 1990.
Nelli, René. L’Érotique des troubadours. Toulouse: Privat, 1963.
Newman, F.X., ed., The Meaning of Courtly Love: Papers of the First Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton. March 17-18, 1967. Albany:  SUNY P, 1968.
O’Brien, Juliet. “Contexts poetic and erotic: trobar amor clusa e cortesa.” Ch. 1 in Trobar Cor(s): Erotics and Poetics in Flamenca.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton U, 2006: 27-143.
— “Reading (and) Courtly Love in Flamenca, via the Charrette.” In Dame Philology’s Charrette: Approaching Medieval Textuality through Chrétien’s Lancelot, Essays in Memory of Karl D. Uitti. Ed. Gina Greco and Ellen Thorington. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) at Arizona State University, 2009.
Paris, Gaston. “Études sur les romans de la Table Ronde: Lancelot.” Romania 12 (1883): 459-
534. Online at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k16021k.r=.langfr
Robertson, D.W. Jr. “Some Medieval Doctrines of Love.” In A Preface to Chaucer. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1962: 391-503.
— “The Concept of Courtly Love as an Impediment to the Understanding of Medieval Texts.” In Newman 1968: 1-18.
Rougemont, Denis de. L’Amour et l’Occident. Paris: Plon, 1972; rev. of 1939 ed.
Uitti, Karl D. “Remarks on Old French Narrative: Courtly Love and Poetic Form (I).” Romance Philology 26 (1972): 92.
Žižek, Slavoj. “Courtly Love, or Woman as Thing.” In The Metastases of Enjoyment. London: Verso, 1994: 148-73.

One comment

  1. Dear Juliet,

    how kind of you to mention that bibliographical tip, given discussing such an engaging paper!
    May I add, from the long distance, a further bibl. footnote?
    It is an old address delivered by Carlo DIONISOTTI an then published as: A Year’s Work in the Seventies, in “The Modern Language Review”, LVII (1972), 4, pp. xix-xxviii.
    There one finds some keen remaks on the influence of Bonn masters (namely of F. Diez’s) on Paris & French C.

    This website is really attractively made. I did not know it yet. Thank you for this fine job.


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