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Cancioneros and the Art of the Songbook

Cancioneros and the Art of the Songbook

(p.167) Chapter Four Cancioneros and the Art of the Songbook
Marisa Galvez
University of Chicago Press

This chapter contrasts the earlier songbook traditions with the cancioneros from the Iberian kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. Like the works of the Occitan and Middle High German traditions, cancioneros are collections of texts in metrical form; until the last quarter of the fifteenth century they were copied into handwritten codices and later appeared in printed versions. The texts in these anthologies show the changing status of “poetry” and its reception. As a medium for the transmission and preservation of poetry and finally as literary objects that constitute a genre, cancioneros are vital for understanding the extent to which Medieval songbooks helped shape conceptions of poetry in the late Medieval period. Cancioneros became a testing ground for rising notions of humanism and the social and ethical role of poetry. Furthermore, in emphasizing the relation between the ritual production of literary activities, theoretical treatises, and courtly festivals, it is argued that the cancioneros were intertwined with the daily social and cultural realities of courtiers and lettered men. All these activities, displayed in the textual mode of the cancioneros represent the sedimentary and localized transformation of literary values taking place during the fifteenth century.

Keywords:   cancioneros, songbooks, anthologies, poetry, Medieval period

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