Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/514

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499
PROVENCAL LITERATURE


vassal the Burgundian Gerard of Roussillon. It is a literary production of rare excellence and of exceptional interest for the history of civilization in the 11th and 12th centuries. Girart de Roussillon belongs only within certain limits to the literature of southern France. The recension which we possess appears to have been made on the borders of Limousin and Poitou; but it is clearly no more than a recast of an older poem no longer extant, probably either of French or at least Burgundian origin. To Limousin also seems to belong the poem of Aigar and Maurin (end of the 12th century), of which we have unfortunately only a fragment so short that the subject cannot be clearly made out. Of less heroic character is the poem of Daurel and Beton (first half of the 13th century), connected with the cycle of Charlemagne, but by the romantic character of the events more like a regular romance of adventure. We cannot, however, form a complete judgment in regard to it, as the only MS. in which it has been preserved is defective at the close, and that to an amount there is no means of ascertaining. Midway between legend and history may be classified the Provengal Chanson of Antioch, a mere fragment of which, 700 verses in extent, has been recovered in Madrid and published in Archives de l'Orient latin, vol. ii. This poem, which seems to have been composed by a certain Gregoire Bechada, mentioned in a 12thcentury chronicle and written in Limousin (see G. Paris, in Romania, xxii. 358), is one of the sources of the Spanish compilation La gran conquista de Ultramar. To history proper belongs the Chanson of the crusade against the Albigensians, which, in its present state, is composed of two poems one tacked to the other: the first, containing the events from the beginning of the crusade till IZI3, is the work of a cleric named William of Tudela, a moderate supporter of the crusaders; the second, from 1213 to 1218, is by a vehement opponent of the enterprise. The language and style of the two parts are no less different than the opinions. Finally, about 1280, Guillaume Anelier, a native of Toulouse, composed, in the chanson de geste form, a poem on the war carried on in Navarre by the French in 1276 and 1277. It is an historical work of little literary merit. All these poems are in the form of chansnns de geste, viz. in stanzas of indefinite length, with a single rhyme. Gerard of Roussillon, Aigar and Maurin and Daurel and Beton are in verses of ten, the others in verses of twelve syllables. The peculiarity of the versification in Gerard is that the pause in the line occurs after the sixth syllable, and not, as is usual, after the fourth. Like the Chanson de geste, the romance of adventure is but slightly represented in the south; but it is to be borne in mind that many works of this class must have perished, as is rendered evident by the mere fact that, with few exceptions, the narrative poems which have come down to us are each known by a single manuscript only. /Ve possess but three Provengal romances of adventure: Jaufré (composed in the middle of the 13th century and dedicated to a king of Aragon, possibly James I.), Blandin of Cornwall and Guillem de la Barra. The first two are connected with the Arthurian cycle: Jaufré is an elegant and ingenious work; Blandin of Cornwall the dullest and most insipid one can well ima ine. The romance of Guillem de la Barra tells a strange story also found in Boccaccio's Decameron (znd Day, viii.). It is rather a poor poem; but as a contribution to literary history it has the advanta e of being dated. It was finished in IQIS, and is dedicated to a noble of Languedoc called Sicart de Montaut. Connected with the romance of adventure is the novel (in Provencal novas, always in the plural), which is originally an account of an event “newly” happened. The novel must have been at first in the south what, as we see by the Decameron, it was in Italy, a society astimwthe wits in turn relating anecdotes, true or imaginary, which they think likely to amuse their auditors. But before long this kind of production was treated in verse, the form adopted being that of the romances of adventure-octosyllabic verses rhyming in pairs. Some of those novels which have come down to us may be ranked with the most graceful works in Provengal literature; two are from the pen of the Catalan author Raimon Vidal de Besalu. One, the Castia-gilos (the Chastisement of the Jealous Man), is a treatment, not easily matched for elegance, of a frequently-handled theme-the story of the husband who, in order to entrap his wife, takes the disguise of the lover whom she is expecting and receives with satisfaction blows intended, as he thinks, for him whose part he is playing; the other, The Judgment of Love, is the recital of a question of the law of love, departing considerably from the subjects usually treated in the novels. Mention may also be made of the novel of The Parrot by Arnaut de Carcassonne, in which the principal character is a parrot of great eloquence and ability, who succeeds marvellously in securing the success of the amorous enterprises of his master. Novels came to be extended to the proportions of a long romance. Flamenco, which belongs to the novel type, has still over eight thousand verses, though the only MS. of it has lost some leaves both at the beginning and at the end. This poem, composed in all probability in 1234, is the story of a lady who by very inenious devices, not unlike those employed in the Miles glorious of glautus, succeeds in eluding the vigilance of her iealous husband. No analysis can be given here of a work the action of which is highly complicated; suffice it to remark that there is no book in medieval literature which betokens so much quickness of intellect and is so instructive in regard to the manners and usages of polite 4-99

society in the 13th century. We know that novels were in great favour in the south of France, although the specimens preserved are not very numerous. Statements made by Francesco da Barberino (early part of 14th century), and recently brought to light, give us a glimpse of several works of this class which have been lost. From the south of France the novel spread into Catalonia, where we find in the 14th century a number of novels in verse very similar to the Provengal ones, and into Italy, where in general the prose form has been adopted.

Didactic and Religions Poetry.-Compositions intended for instruction, correction and edification were very numerous in the south of France as well as elsewhere, and, in spite of the enormous losses sustained by Provengal literature, much of this kind still remains. But it is seldom that such works have much originality or literary value. Originality was naturally absent, as the aim of the writers was mainly to bring the teachings contained in Latin works within the reach of lay hearers or readers. Literary value was not of course excluded by the lack of originality, but by an unfortunate chance the greater part of those who sought to instruct or edify, and attempted to substitute moral works for secular productions in favour with the people, were, with a few exceptions, persons of limited ability. It would be out of question to enumerate ere all the didactic treatises, all the lives of saints, all the treatises of popular theology and morals, all the books of devotion, all the pious canticles, composed in Provengal verse during the middle ages; still some of these poems may be singled out. Daude de Prades (early 13th century), 8. canon of Maguelone, and at the same time a troubadour, has left a poem, the Auzels cassadors, which is one of the best sources for the study of falconry. Raimon d'Avignon, otherwise unknown, translated in verses, about the year 1200, Rogier of Parme's “ Surgery ” (Romania, x. 63 and 496). We may mention also a poem on astrology by a certain G. (Guilhem?), and another, anonymous, on geomancy, both written about the end of the 13th century (Romania, xxvi. 825). As to moral compositions, we have to recall the Boethius poem (unfortunately a mere fragment) already mentioned as one of the oldest documents of the language, and really a remarkable work; and to notice an early (12th century?) metrical translation of the famous Disticha de moribus of Dionysius Cato (Romania, xxv. 98, and xxix. 445). More original are some compositions of an educational character known under the name of ensenhamenz, and, in some respects, comparable to the English nurture-books. The most interesting are those of Garin le Brun (12th century), Arnaut de Mareuil, Arnaut Guilhem de Marsan, Amanieu de Sescas. Their general object is the education of ladies of rank. Of metrical lives of saints we possess about a dozen (see Histoire littéraire de la France, vol. xxxii.), among which two or three deserve a particular attention: the Life of Sancta Fides, recently discovered and printed Romania, xxxi.), written early in the 12th century; the Life of St Enimia (13th centu1'Y), by Bertran of Marseilles, and that of St Honorat of Lerins by Raimon Feraud (about 1300), which is distinguished by variety and elegance of versification, but it is almost entirely a translation from Latin. Lives of saints (St Andrew, St Thomas the Apostle, St John the Evangelist) form a part of a poem, strictly didactic, which stands out by reason of its great extent (nearly thirty-five thousand verses) and the somewhat original conception of its scheme-the Breviari d'amor, a vast encyclopedia, on a theological basis, composed by the Minorite friar Matfre Ermengaut of Béziers between 1288 and 1300 or thereabout.

Drama.-The dramatic literature of southern France belongs entirely to the religious class, and shows little originality. It consists of mysteries and miracle plays seldom exceeding two or three thousand lines, which never developed into the enormous dramas of northern France, whose acting required several consecutive days. Comic plays, so plentiful in medieval French literature arces, sotties), do not seem to have found favour in the south. pecimens which we possess of Provengal drama are comparatively few; but researches in local archives, especially in old account books, have brought to light a considerable number of entries concerning the acting, at public expense, of religious plays, called, in Latin documents, ludns, historia, moralitas, most of which seem to be irretrievably lost. As all the Provengal plays, sometimes mere fragments, which have escaped destruction, are preserved in about a dozen manuscripts, unearthed within the last forty or fifty years, there is hope that new texts of that sort may some day be published. Generally those plays belong to the 15th century or to the 16th. Still, a few are more ancient and may be ascribed to the 14th century or even to the end of the 13th. The oldest appears to be the Mystery of St Agnes (edited by Bartsch, 1869), written in Arles. Somewhat more recent, but not later than the beginning of the hgh century, is a Passion of Christ (not yet printed) and a mystery of the Marriage of the Virgin, which is partly adapted from a French poern of the 13th century, (see Romania xvi. 71). A manuscript, discovered in private archives (printed by leanroy and Teulié, 1893), contains not less than sixteen short mysteries, three founded on the Old Testament, thirteen on the New. They were written in Rouerue and are partly imitated from French mysteries. At Manosque § Basses Alpes) was found a fragment of a Ludus sancti Jacobi, inserted in a register of notarial deeds (printed by C. Arnaud.