Francis Cairns Publications

Vinaver Studies in French 4

Latin Poetic Irony in the Roman de la Rose

Marc M. Pelen

VSF 4. ISBN 978-0-905205-32-8. Cloth. x+180pp. 1987.

The Roman de la Rose is a work of ambivalence and paradox: recurring images and topics are handled in a contradictory manner by different speakers. These apparent oppositions spring, as Dr. Pelen argues in this important study, from an underlying structure of irony deriving from the poem's Latin models.

The two traditions of irony examined are those of Ovidian love poetry, transmitted through goliardic lyric and dream visions, and of Boethian didactic, mediated by Alain de Lille. The impact of these traditions on the authors of Le Roman de la Rose is then analyzed. What emerges is a stance from which the order of the poem and the unique ambition of its erotic dreamer can be better understood.


Prefatory Note

ONE. Medieval and Modern Irony in the Roman de la Rose
Topic and "senefiance" in the unity of the poem
A Contemporary cultural context for ironic contraries in the Roman de la Rose
Early critical reactions to thematic and verbal ironiesin the Roman de la Rose

TWO. Techniques and Traditions of Latin Poetic Irony in the Immediate Background of the Roman de la Rose
Lovers and artists in the irony of Ovid's Art of Love
Ovidian irony in two erotic vision poems from the Carmina Burana
A conflict of love and reason in two academic vision poems
Humorous variations on a literary tradition: irony as an agent of thematic unity

THREE. Boethian Themes in the Humor of the De Planctu Naturae of Alain de Lille
Comic reversals in the argument of the De Planctu Naturae
A Boethian context for the ironic purposes of the De Planctu Naturae
Thematic implications in the humor of the De Planctu Naturae

FOUR. Latin Poetic Irony in the Thematic Unity of the Roman de la Rose
Inconclusive ironies and ideals in Guillaume's love vision
Structural and thematic irony in Jean de Meun's continuation
Contradictory "idealisms": Raison, Ami, Jaloux, La Vieille
The "Eternity" of Nature's and Genius' procreation

FIVE. Amant's Awakening: a Degree of Irony and a Degree of Unity in the Roman de la Rose



"An important study of a seminal text" Forum for Modern Language Studies 25 (1989) 92

"Pelen is at his best when demonstrating thematic unity by teasing out the humour that underscores the treatment of auctores. His discussion of the Latin texts is informative; his readings of individual passages of the Roman are refreshingly sensitive to the poem's literary merits. Pelen's conclusions should nevertheless be treated cautiously. His book appears to participate in the questionable Robertsonian critical tradition which argues that secular medieval literature invariably constitutes an ironic affirmation of Christianity. In the case of the Roman such a reading is belied by the ambivalence and irony Pelen himself detects, and the suggestion that irony can produce univocal meaning is disquieting coming from a critic who is otherwise so illuminating." French Studies 44 (1990) 47-8 (Simon Gaunt)

"Marc Pelen déplore assex curieusement dans son avant-propos l'esprit polémique qui anime la critique autour du Roman de la Rose. On croit comprendre qu'il tente discrètement de réhabiliter l'école américaine de D.W. Robertson et de J.V. Fleming. Si telle est son intention, il n'y réussit peut-être pas vraiment, mais il fait mieux: il nous donne un livre, par endroits discutable, mais érudit et subtil." Annales. Economies Sociétés Civilisation 4 (1988) 917-18 (Michel Zink)

"M. Pelen séduit par l'élégance et la clarté de son style, par la discrétion avec laquelle il déploie sa grande érudition, par la justesse de ses observations qui sont le résultat de réflexions dûment mûries. ... En revanche, son livre décrit brillamment le milieu intellectuel (chapitres 1 à 3) dans lequel s'inscrit le Roman de la Rose, milieu qu'aucun lecteur de Jean n'aura plus d'excuse de ne pas connaître." Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 67 (1989) 643-4 (H.R. Runte)

Vox Romanica 48 (1988) 265-9 (Marc-René Jung)

Medium Aevum 58 (1989) 329-31 (Jillian Hill)

Studi Francesi 33 (1989) (Maria Teresa Bisiachi)

Zeitschrift für Französische Sprache und Literatur 99 (1989) 90-92 (Karl August Ott)

Modern Language Review 84 (1989) 466-7 (Leslie C. Brook)