La Vielle

(maybe NSFW)

vielleNot too bad, really. Fair enough. Let’s just keep the idea of “fiddles” at the back of the mind for the time being.

But then we add in one of my favourite Roman de la Rose protagonists, La Vie(i)lle:

picture-1(Bodleian Library, MS Selden Supra 57, f. 100 rº; c/o the Roman de la Rose Digital Library)

Wise older woman. Perhaps a bit of a cougar (another Selden illumination, on 89 rº, is suggestive):


Definitely a professional in the arts of Love (or high priestess?) with sound practical advice from the points of view of the Working Girl – of various sorts, including contemporary parallels to present-day young ladies enrolled on an MRS degree course – and that of the procuress. All hugely important to the Rose‘s playing-out and playing-around-with of epistemological and ethical issues around faicts (and faicts, dicts, aucteurs). But also an inspiration for:


I had long suspected that
(a) there is no such thing as The Key to the Rose, no single-track interpretation, and no single most important protagonist;
(b) the inclusion of the parts, and their utility to the whole, is key to how the book works, and does so in an Aristotelian way and in a way that is in itself an Aristotelian commentary;
(c) those characters and voices who do not appear major – as in any work, and especially in crime and horror – should never be summarily dismissed; not least given the psychomachia, persona, and avatar aspects.

But I was wrong all along. La Vie(i)lle is actually key after all. Here’s the Rose, alive and well. Somewhat transmogrified – from phallic bud via rose to very-O’Keeffe-feminised orchid. We have here a third Rose continuation, further to Jean’s work (or is he still alive and ith us, and this is yet another part of his games with readers?): further “discovery,” “exploration,” and “experimentation,” moving the Lover towards “maxim[al] pleasure.”

Through fiddling.

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