Romance of the Rose


Romance of the Rose
   Allegorical dream-poem (Roman de la Rose) written in French at two different times in the 13th century by two different poets. Although it is a typically medieval poem written in a medieval century, it had a long-term influence extending to the time of Chaucer, who translated portions into English, and even into the 16th century, when the French poet Clément Marot edited it for publication. It was probably the most widely read poem of the Mid-dle Ages.
   The first portion, which seems to be the product of a member of the aristocracy and expresses the romantic tradition of chivalric literature, was the work of Guillaume de Lorris, who wrote it about 1237. It de-scribes the hero, a lover who pursues his inaccessible lady (the Rose) against the opposition of abstract characters such as Envy and Jeal-ousy, and it breaks off as the lady (the Rose) is held captive in a forti-fied castle. The second part, much longer and written about 1280, was the work of Jean de Meung (also called Jean Clopinel), who was born about 1250, seems to have received a classical education, and proba-bly lived until the early 14th century. The tone of this second part is radically different from that of the first. Jean de Meung loaded his continuation with prolix and irrelevant detail apparently intended to show his familiarity with ancient literature. This portion abandoned the idealistic tone of Lorris' work for a cynical expression of distrust in the church, the aristocracy, and in particular the honor of women.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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