I'm glad L. Helm found my notes on the troubadour's art of interest.
In a message dated 2/15/2016 12:18:11 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes: "My ... came from the early 1800s and
translated in 1860 by by G.J. Adler."
Mind, when it comes to troubadours and chivalry, who wants the latest
"This book, The History of Provencal Poetry ... looked interesting."
Helm goes on:
"A point I had in mind but failed to make is implied on the first page of
Helm goes on to quote from "The History of Provencal Poetry:
The author of that essay writes:
"I shall therefore divide the history of Provencal literature into two
great epochs, of which the one extends from the second half of the eighth
century to the year 1080, and the other from 1080 to 1350. Of these two epochs
the first is, as we can easily presume, by far the most obscure, the one
from which the smallest number of monuments are left us, and concerning which
history furnishes us the scantiest information. It still however offers
us many curious and interesting facts -- facts, by which the literature of
the South is linked, on the one hand to the culture of the ancient Greeks
and Romans, and on the other to the glorious epochs of he Middle Age."
Interesting. Of course, I love that reference to the Ancient Romans! Only,
even the Italians find the idea that, while the troubadour's art was
extremely popular in, Liguria, of all places, and in Occitan -- not to mention
the 'scuola toscana' -- are sceptic about a line of continuity here, even if
Ovid is usually thrown into the bargain.
Helm keeps on quoting:
"The fundamental fact, to be examined in this first epoch of Provencal
literature, is the origin and formation of the idiom which was destined to
become its organ. The creation of every language presents to us certain
obscure and mysterious phrases which will not admit of an absolute
But this being granted, there is perhaps no idiom in the world which
furnishes us so many data for the construction of its history, as does the
Provencal; and from this circumstance alone, it is entitled to a
particular attention. A careful and critical examination of it enables us to
distinguish the various ingredients, which have successively entered into its
composition, and the different languages to which these ingredients
belong. In the Latin substratum, which constitutes its basis, we find
still enough of Greek to attest the long residence of a Grecian population in
the countries in which it originated. We also discover considerable traces
of the three most ancient languages of Gaul, all of which are still alive
in barbarous or remote countries, which have served them as places of
refuge. One of these languages is spoken in France by the inhabitants of lower
Brittany, and in England by the Welsh; the other in the mountains of
Scotland, and in the interior of Ireland; the last in the Pyrenees by the
Indeed. I like his use of 'barbarous and remote'. Of course, strictly,
'barbarous' should only be used if and only if you are Greek and monolingual!
"In English literature we find critics referring to certain poets,
Shakespeare and Milton for example, as being "immortal," and various poets
(Milton, not Shakespeare if I recall correctly) seeking immortality through
their poetry. In looking at the panorama Fouriel has provided, what chance
does the English we speak let alone poets writing today have of being
understood even a thousand years from now? Further, as Speranza tells us,
"Troubadours performed their own songs. Jongleurs (performers) and cantaires
(singers) also performed troubadours' songs.""
Yes. I am especially fascinated by the etymology of 'jongleur', which I
have to explore further in terms of implicatures! (I mean, I take each lexeme
to mean primarily WHAT IT SAYS; everything else being a mere implicatum or
"We know the names (more names that I recalled from reading Fouriel) of
many Troubadours, but do we remember the names of as many Jongleurs and
cantaires? And if we do surely we remember nothing of what made them
significant in their day, the sound of their voices and their instruments as
performed the music of the troubadours."
Well, I think it was Borges, since we were talking about him recently,
used to say that he wished his verses would be remembered, without his name
attached to it! Poets aiming not so much at immortality but anonymousness, if
that's the abstract term. I think someone said that Anonymous was the most
prolific of poets.
In folksong study (and yes, there is an English Folksong Society), if a
song HAS AN AUTHOR (or a name attached to it), it is no folksong. When Sharp
would say that "The seeds of love" he heard first at Somerset as sung by,
say, one Mr. Taylor, or "Through bushes and through briars" by a certain,
say, Mr. Smith, in East Anglia, he (Sharp) is still thinking that it's not
Smith or Taylor who are inventing the stuff. Just transmitting it!
(By the way, there's a sublime rendition of both in the CD soundtrack to
Hardy's "Far from the maddening crowd", with Julie Christie, NOT the new
"Today there are many more people benefiting from modern-day troubadours,
most of which haven't the ability to "perform" their own writings.
Psychiatrists forced Anne Sexton to perform her poetry at $1,000 a performance
order to pay them. Ted Hughes used Sylvia Plath's writings to obtain money
enough to buy a vacation home for his new wife and family."
I suppose that had his new wife had also been a writer Ted Hughes, OM,
would have one vacation home too many, as the Yorkshiremen say!
"But even today publishers and book sellers are benefiting from the
writings of Sexton and Plath far more than they themselves did."
The same happens with Van Gogh -- and my favourite: Modigliani. Christie
recently had a huge sell of a painting by this man who died in the worst
conditions in the best city in the world (to Parisians): Paris -- (For some
reason, Modigliani hated his native country!)
I think there is a fascinating account of the troubadour's antics in the
First Act of "Francesca da Rimini" by Zandonai. It is based on D'Annunzio.
Troubadours and company brought gossip to the courts, and D'Annunzio paints a
rather ironic picture of them!
"Perhaps the greed of these people will cause the poetry of Plath and
Sexton to approach more closely to immortality than the writings of better
who never achieved the celebrity of a madness culminating in a romantic
suicide providing a plethora of critical remoras who benefited and still
benefit from their debris. Surely the practical minded publishers and book
sellers are wiser in choosing the money to be made from poor or dead poets
than the poets themselves who have given their lives for nothing that has a
chance of living more than a few centuries. Surely the pessimistic Koholeth
was far ahead of his time -- or have we always been like this?"
Dunno. Homer had no publisher, for once!
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