Fortune and desire in Guillaume de Machaut
Beer, Lewis (2010) Fortune and desire in Guillaume de Machaut. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
WRAP_THESIS_Beer_2010.pdf - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2341041~S15
There is a pervasive tendency, in Machaut scholarship, to read his poetry as having value only insofar as it speaks to our postmodern age: either it is fragmented and riven with ambiguities, or it celebrates eroticism and the things of this world for their own sake; in any case, it resists religious and moral orthodoxy. Such readings, while often valuable in themselves, fail to take sufficient account of the influence which Boethian and Neoplatonic ideas had upon Machaut, and thus misunderstand his work on a fundamental level. By paying attention to the Boethian content in the narrative dits, and by analysing Machaut's verse more thoroughly than has been done before, my thesis demonstrates not only this author's moral orthodoxy, but also his extremely sophisticated didactic methods. I begin with the Confort d'ami, Machaut's most overtly moral work. The Confort engages with the supposed 'worldly' perspective of its imprisoned addressee, adapting biblical and classical exempla in order to coax Charles of Navarre towards a deeper understanding of worldly fortune. In Chapter 2 I show how, in the Prologue and the Dit du vergier, the ambiguity so beloved of critics can serve as a moral commentary on the carnality and self-absorption of the erotic and artistic points of view. Having established, in the preceding chapters, that this author's approach to his subject is ambiguous and critical, in Chapter 3 I explore the extremes of his pessimism, and show how his love poetry can incorporate sophisticated philosophical ideas, through my analysis of the Jugement du roy de Behaigne. The thesis culminates in a detailed reading of the Remede de Fortune. Through his deliberately idealised statements about education, through his application of these views to the art of courtly love, through his composition (and setting to music) of a sequence of virtuoso lyrics, and through his explicit invocations of and borrowings from Boethius, Machaut develops an empathic but ultimately, as I argue, deeply sceptical vision of earthly love.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Guillaume, de Machaut, ca. 1300-1377 -- Criticism and interpretation, Desire in literature, Fortune in literature|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Whitehead, Christiania, 1969-|
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