Idleness Working: The Discourse of Love's Labor from Ovid through Chaucer and Gower
By: Gregory M. Sadlek (author)Hardback
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Inspired by the critical theories of M. M. Bakhtin, Idleness Working is a groundbreaking study of key works in the Western literature of love from Classical Rome to the late Middle Ages. The study focuses on the evolution of the ideologically-saturated discourse of love's labor contained in these works and thus explores them in the context of ancient and medieval theories of labor and leisure, which themselves are seen to evolve through the course of Western history. What emerges from this study is a fresh appreciation and deepened understanding of such well-known classics of love literature as Ovid's Ars amatoria, Andreas Capellanus' De amore, Alan of Lille's Complaint of Nature, Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's Roman de la rose, John Gower's Confessio Amantis, and Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. In his provocative approach to these works, Gregory M. Sadlek finds a tradition of love constructed as labor, a tradition that forms a little-noticed complement to the better-known tradition of love as passion or madness, masterfully explored in Denis de Rougement's Love in the Western World. In fact, two different traditions of love's labor--one rhetorical, playful, and focused on the labor of courtship; the other serious, philosophical, and focused on the labor of reproduction--arise individually but are later combined to form some of the most vexing and imaginative love poetry of the Middle Ages. The study traces a steady ""embourgeoisement de l'eros"" [a making bourgeois of love] in a tradition with strong ties to the medieval aristocracy. In the end ""work,"" constructed by means of a rich array of labor vocabulary and imagery, is presented as a necessary but fulfilling component of human existence, a philosophical position that in some aspects foreshadows the Protestant Work Ethic. Idleness Working will be of special interest to students and scholars of classical and medieval literature--Latin, English, and French--but especially to those interested in the histories of love or labor.
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- ID: 9780813213736
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