Lai du conseil(2013)
AbstractThis is an edition of the thirteenth-century, northern French Lai du conseil by Brinduşa Elena Grigoriu, Catharina Peersman and Jeff Rider, with an Introduction and notes by Brinduşa Elena Grigoriu and Jeff Rider. The Lai du Conseil is a remarkable artistic achievement that offers us a realistic, sophisticated, sensitive and touching portrait of the most important moment in the imagined relationship of its two principal characters, the moment when they realize and confess their love for one another. The success of the poem, indeed, springs first and foremost from its author’s decision to focus on this emotionally charged, universally familiar moment when growing affection passes over into acknowledged love, when two people reach the point where they dare to confide their feelings for one another to one another. And they are reciprocated! For the Lai du Conseil is also a happy story, in which love is discovered, nurtured and eventually able to bloom in a socially acceptable and productive framework. As other scholars have shown, the author of the lay was thoroughly familiar with the courtly love and literary traditions and he veils this touching moment of discovery in a largely conventional, although sometimes remarkably insightful, courtly discourse. His characters do something very similar. In a subtle play of ‘faces’, they hide — ‘couvrent’ in the language of the lay — their exploration of their feelings and those of the other person, their searching out and testing of one another, behind largely conventional discourses in order to escape the surveillance of the keen-eyed and omnipresent scandalmongers at court. This creates a realistic sort of quasi-allegorical discursive situation in which seemingly general statements, or statements about third parties, in fact allude allegorically, so to speak, to the two people in conversation. This tension or play between what is said, what the speaker anxiously hopes is being understood, and what the listener anxiously hopes or fears is being meant is the second main source of the poem’s charm. The Lai du Conseil can thus be read as a remarkably subtle story of two people who know one another a little, would like to get to know one another better, take advantage of an opportunity offered to them one Christmas Eve, and end up discovering a life-long companion. The match parallels in interesting and different ways both Lanval’s relation with his lady, and Caradoc’s relation with his wife in the Lai du Cor. Like the lady of the Lai du Conseil, Lanval’s lady, who is likewise presented as very noble and very rich, seeks him out, provides for the poor knight’s material needs, and eventually takes him away with her to live in her land. Like Caradoc, the knight of the Lai du Conseil owes his fortune, his ‘establishment’, his chasement to his powers of seduction and the marriage they win him with a noble and wealthy woman.
EditorBrinduşa Elena Grigoriu, Catharina Peersman and Jeff Rider
PublisherUniversity of Liverpool, Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (French)
SeriesLiverpool Online Series, Critical Editions of French Texts
Citation InformationLe Lai du conseil. Edited by Brinduşa Elena Grigoriu, Catharina Peersman and Jeff Rider, with an Introduction and Notes by Brinduşa Elena Grigoriu and Jeff Rider. Liverpool Online Series, Critical Editions of French Texts, 18. Liverpool, UK: University of Liverpool, Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (French), 2013.