The Book of the Duke of True Lovers

Christine De Pizan, Author, Christine, Author, Nadia Margolis, Translator Persea Books $24.95 (162p) ISBN 978-0-89255-163-7
Whatever the theoretical reverence for women in the lore of courtly love, the reality was quite different. For the married lady, courtly love amounted to adultery; for the unmarried, shame, as marriage was never the goal of her suitor. Pizan ( The Book of the City of Ladies ) had already criticized the thinly veiled allegory of Jean de Meun's continuation of the Roman de la Rose (ca. 1275) when around 1403 the ``Duke of True Lovers'' asked her to fashion a romance based on his affair with a married cousin. Pizan obliged him--she was, after all, a working single mother with three children--but did not betray her principles. Nestled among the courtly commonplaces (a joust, the duke's consuming passion and its tortuous slaking) is a long didactic letter from his lady's old duenna, warning her about the perils of her course. The narrative poetry that tells the story has been ably translated by Fenster into accessible prose, which serves to emphasize Margolis's verse translations of the ballades, rondeaux and virelais. The introduction provides a useful literary setting but only that: readers who want to know more, indeed anything, about the patron will be disappointed. ( Feb. )
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 162 pages - 978-0-89255-166-8
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