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Christine's Later Mentions of the Romance of the Rose

Christine's Later Mentions of the Romance of the Rose

(p.233) V Christine's Later Mentions of the Romance of the Rose
Debate of the Romance of the Rose
Christine de Pizan
University of Chicago Press

The Rose debate does not simply represent a quaint affair in which Christine de Pizan nobly stood up for the cause of women and what is frequently considered an outdated Christian morality. Not only does it revealingly display the terms used in debates over obscene speech and censorship that retain their currency in our own twenty-first century, but it more profoundly suggests that debating is itself not totally based upon substance, ideas, or moral convictions. It is important to note that the wide array of positions called into play are dictated by both individual sensibilities and professional concerns: Christine's deeply held beliefs as well as her professional preoccupations of the moment; Gerson's need, as a theologian and a high-profile preacher, to improve public morals, but also his personal foibles and obsessions; the playful humor of the protohumanist intellectuals of the chancery, who delighted in Jean de Meun's outrageous misogyny and obscenity, even though they themselves would not have indulged in them; finally, Jean de Meun's profile as a provocateur and satirist of the first order, one who seems to have come back once again from beyond the grave (as he had done just a few years before in Honoré Bovet's 1398 Apparicion de Jehan de Meung [The Apparition of Jean de Meun]) in order, himself, to launch France's first literary debate. Judging from the relatively meager manuscript legacy, it would not appear that the debate had a direct lasting influence over discussions of women or of obscenity.

Keywords:   Christine de Pizan, Jean Gerson, Romance of the Rose, women, Jean de Meun

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