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With romances like Perceforest, instinct with the spirit of the past, it is natural to associate the dits of Baudouin and Baudouin and Jean de Conde.1 The dit, jean ae conte. a very loose sort of poem, and first cousin
to "debates " and " disputes," professed to sum up the qualities of an object. Later, it became tinged with satire, and was hardly distinguishable from the fabliau. (The fabliau, it should be observed, disappeared in the course of this century, and was represented in the next, on the one hand, by the prose "novel," and, on the other, by the farce.) Baudouin de Conde, who lived towards the close of the thirteenth century, wrote many dits in "equivocal verses" — i.e., with rhymes formed of the same words in two or three different senses. That on Gentillece anticipates Tennyson's sentiment:—
"Nul n'est vilains si de cuer non;
These lines, however, it must be confessed, are somewhat delusive, for, taken generally, the dits are by no means "popular." They are extremely finished compositions addressed to high society, of which they reflect the tone. This remark is especially applicable to those of Jean.
In the sweet merry season when every creature is gay by right of nature, and joyous, and the flowers
1 A. Scheler, Dits et contes de Baudouin de Conde et desonJUs, Jea n de Conde1. 3 vols., Brussels, 1866.
spring in the meadow, and the birds sing morn and mto/ihe night, and lead a glorious life — in this Two Lovers, delicious time, coveting the joy of love, and being, moreover, intent on making a new song, Jean de Conde entered a very beautiful orchard, where he met two ladies of high degree. Immediately he saluted them, and one of them said to the other, "Here is Jean, who will tell us his opinion of our debate." Jean consents to be umpire, all three sit down in a part of the orchard remote from passers-by, and the discussion is resumed. The problem agitating these dear creatures is, Whether of the two loves better, the bold or the timorous wooer? One supports the claim of the bold suitor who speaks out—" couars n'ara ja bielle amie "—while the other doubts if such boldness consists with true passion. Each in turn defends her own view, and at length they call upon Jean, whose heart is grounded in love-lore, to enlighten them. Jean, without pretending to universal knowledge, feels himself equal to the task, and decides in favour of the timorous wooer, though, to natter the other side, he says that a lover should be bold in serving:—
"Je di, u qu'il ait finne amour,
One source of this fear is the possibility of rejection. Another is the risk of displeasing the lady. Nay, the very force of love robs a man of nerve, of self-possession, when he is in his lady's presence. So Jean concludes :—
"Ne croi c'onques hons bien amast
In his dit of the Magnificat Jean is more sombre. His subject is the legend of the Proud Emperor, of which there are other versions, and the story is not unlike that of Nebuchadnezzar. The emperor, fancying himself above the power of heaven, sees an angel or demon take possession of his throne, and it is only after a severe penance that he is allowed to regain it. Other dits teach other lessons; and, indeed, though a court-poet, Jean de Cond^ is also undeniably a preacher.
The romance was but sparsely cultivated by the Troubadours.1 The best specimen is Jaufre, an Troubadour Arthurian romance composed in Aragon Romanes, between 1222 and 1232. To the scanty total, amounting to less than a dozen, the fourteenth century contributed two romans d'aventures, in themselves of no great mark or likelihood. Blandin de Cornoalha et Gfuilhot Ardit de Miramur2 describes the achievements of these heroes, who traverse the world in search of adventures, fight with giants, serpents, and dragons, and emerge victorious from their conflicts. Blandin is lucky enough to awake a lady called Brianda from a trance, and she rewards him by becoming his wife. Her friend Irlanda confers her
1 Compare a remark of Raimon Vidal: "La parladura francesca val mais ct es plus avinenz a far romanz e pastorellas, mas cella de Lemosin val mais per far vers et cansons et serventes."
3 Paul Meyer, Romania, ii. 170-202.
hand on Guilhot. The authorship of the poem is unknown, but there are reasons for surmising that it was written in Catalonia.
The other romance is Guilkem de la Barra.1 The author was Arnaut Vidal de Castelnaudary, leader in a Quiihem de movement, hereinafter to be mentioned, for laBan-a. tjie restoration of Troubadour verse; and the poem was finished in May 1318. The "plot" is as follows: The King of Serra sets out for the wars, and during his absence appoints Guilhem de la Barra his vicegerent. The young queen falls in love with him, but Guilhem rejects her overtures. Thereupon he is calumniated a la Joseph. He escapes with his son and daughter, and the latter marries the Count of Terramada. Fifteen years pass, and Guilhem, unrecognised by his daughter, acts as governor to his children. Meanwhile his son, adopted by the King of Armenia, is on the point of fighting a duel with Guilhem, who enters the lists as champion for the Count of Terramada. The same battle - cry "Barra! Barra!" unmasks their relations, and this is followed by a similar scene between father and daughter. The Queen of Serra confesses her guilt, and all ends satisfactorily.
There is a close resemblance between this romance origin of the and Boccaccio's novel (ii. 8), The Count of Bonumce. Antwerp. It is hard to say whether the romance was the source of the novel, or whether they had a common origin. It is conceivable at least that
1 Guillaume de la Barra, Roman d'aventure. Par Paul Meyer. Paris, 1868.
both were based on an historical incident, to which Dante alludes in the Purgatorio (vi. 22):—
"I saw Count Orso; and the soul divided
Pierre was, in fact, accused by Marie of Brabant, wife of Philippe le Bel, of having written love-letters to her, and condemned to death.
Whatever may be the case with the Decameron, there can be no question as to the influence of ProThe cento No- venial life and literature on the Cento veiie Antiche. Novelle Antiche. Thus in N. 61, which presents so vivid a picture of Provencal manners, the sonorous langue d'oc involuntarily supplants the Italian prose. Sometimes single words, sometimes whole sentences, thrust themselves in, and at length we are brought full in view of a Provencal ode. The knight begins his complaint in pure Tuscan ("altresi come il leofante quando cade non si puo levare "), then he gets mixed, and, finally, he drops into pure Provencal (" per tos temps las non can tar "). It looks very much as though the author had sought to translate the poem, and afterwards, finding the task too irksome for him, had abandoned the attempt.
The identity of the author is profoundly ob
1 Translated by Longfellow. Opinions vary as to the merits of this translation. The rhythm is good, and it is extremely literal. Mainly for its fidelity it has been adopted, for purposes of citation, throughout.