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Fra Francesc Moner’s Bilingual Poetics of Love and Reason

The «Wisdom Text» by a Catalan Writer of the Early Renaissance


Peter Cocozella

Fra Francesc Moner (1462/3-1491/2) is a Catalan author, who flourished in Barcelona during the second decade subsequent to the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in 1469. Moner’s extant production amounts to seventy-four pieces, a collection of poems and prose works of various genres, written in Catalan and in Castilian. A comprehensive study that profiles the creativity of a whole career is a rare occurrence for a Hispanic author like Moner, whose lifetime straddles the boundaries between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This book highlights the two main aspects of Fra Francesc’s contribution: first, the resourceful bilingualism stemming from Moner’s mastery of not only his native Catalan but also Castilian, the language that in the late 1400s kept gaining the ascendancy and prestige of officialdom throughout the Spanish realm; second, the fashioning of an iconic text of subjectivity in the wake of the landmark innovations brought about by Ausiàs March, the Valencian luminary of the first half of the fifteenth century. Moner develops a love-centered poetics that integrates the distinctive strains of multiple traditions. By probing into Moner’s poetics of love and reason, the reader catches a glimpse of an author engaged in intense soul-searching. Moner, in turn, shares with his readers some extraordinary insights into the compelling moments of the human condition – precisely the condition of the human being torn between the allure of the flesh and the aspiration toward the Divine.


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Foreword ix


Foreword Th e present monograph stems from a close reading of the works of Fra Fran- cesc Moner, born at the end of 1462 or the beginning of 1463 in Perpignan, the capital of the Pyrenean heartland of Catalonia. Moner, who in his late twenties decided to join the Franciscan order, established his reputation as a writer in the literary circles of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia proper, in a very short time span—roughly from the mid-1480s to 1492, the year of his premature death. As we can see, Moner did not reach the age of thirty. In these pages I should like to profi le the stature of Moner as a worthy heir of Ausiàs March, the nonpareil lyricist, whose career fl ourished in his na- tive Valencia in the fi rst half of the fi fteenth century.1 Not unlike March, our Fra Francesc engages in an engrossing meditation on the phenomenology of love. I will try to show how Moner, even while following in the footsteps of the Valencian bard, does not fail to make a distinctive contribution to the love- centered literature of the post-troubadour era. Th e aim of my analysis is to gain an insight into the process by which Moner assimilates the wide variety of components that a multifarious tradition makes available to his resourceful bilingualism. Indeed, his extant production CocozzellaPeter.indd ix 12/31/09 8:21:21 PM x Fra Francesc Moner’s Bilingual Poetics of Love and Reason attests to his profi ciency not only in...

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