Late Medieval French Composite Poems
Joan Grenier - Winther

Without an authenticated autograph manuscript, it is often hard to assign authorship to a medieval work. Inter textual references help, as do internal references of a personal, historical, or other nature. Many texts, however, remain anonymous until concrete proof of authorship is discovered. Three anonymous French poems dating from the late fourteenth to the early fifteenth century present an additional problem in the often frustrating job of assigning of authorship to early texts in that they have a bi-partite structure that points to their being, in fact, an amalgamation of two separate poems, thus may have been written by two different poets. In 1894, the Swiss medievalist, Arthur Piaget, was the first to advance the theory that one of these poems, La Belle Dame a mercy(also known as La Belle Dame qui eut mercy), was really two separate poems, although he did not elaborate. I propose to present paleographical, material, and thematic evidence to support Piaget’s claim. Two similar poems from the same period and courtly milieu will be included in the discussion: Le Dialogue d’amoureux et de sa dame (also known as D’un Amoureux parlant a sa dame) and Le Serviteur sans guerdon. Recent theories on poetic production in the late middle Ages, as well as on the compilation of manuscript collections and early printed books, will also inform a general theory of late medieval composite works.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v4n1a1