A History of Women's Writing in France by Sonya Stephens

By Sonya Stephens

This quantity is the 1st ancient advent to women's writing in France from the 6th century to the current day. particularly commissioned essays by way of best students give you the first advent in English to the wealth and variety of French ladies writers, delivering new readings and new views. every one bankruptcy makes a speciality of a given interval and diversity of writers, taking account of winning sexual ideologies and the social, political, fiscal and cultural atmosphere. wide reference beneficial properties contain a bibliography and consultant to multiple hundred and fifty writers and their works.

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15 But given the paucity or unreliability of information that survives about the circumstances of the songs’ composition and about authorial identity, the distinction is not always an easy one to make. Controversy about the gender of authorship haunts the trobairitz corpus. 16 Consequently, the number of poems attributed to trobairitz, female composers, in different popular and scholarly editions ranges from twenty-three to over twice that many. 17 Of the twenty named trobairitz who have come down to us, only two, the Comtessa de Dia and Na Castelloza, have more than one song attributed to them, and only one song, La Comtessa de Dia’s ‘A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no volria,’ survives with melody, in a fragment containing one strophe, or stanza.

Je dy ainsi que, quant d’escrire, n’ay a force que femme en saiche riens; mais, quant à lire, toute femme en vault mieulx de le sçavoir, et cognoist mieulx la foy et les perils de l’ame et son saulvement’ [and thus I say, as for writing, a woman need not know anything about it, but as for reading, every woman would be better off knowing how to do it and   . 32 In such a context, women’s writing in the secular domain remained the purview of exceptional women. ) was such an exception.

Some songs seem to tease self-consciously at this gender tension. For example, in seeming defiance of ‘rules’ that make the lady remote and inaccessible, the Comtessa de Dia declares in ‘Estat ai en greu cossirier’ [I have been sorely troubled] that she would like to hold her ‘cavallier’ . . ‘un ser en mos bratz nut,’ [naked in my arms one night] (pp. –, line ). But when she says that she would like to be his pillow ‘cosseillier’, she playfully dramatizes physical submission. At the song’s end, she reveals her desire to maintain control of the situation even as she voices passionate longings: she boldly declares that she desires to have her ‘cavallier’ in her husband’s place – ‘provided you had promised me / to do everything I wished’ [‘ab so que m’aguessetz plevit / de far tot so qu’eu volria’] (pp.

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