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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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Chapter One: The Rhetoric of Reasoning 27


ONE The Rhetoric of Reasoning A Scholarly Repetitio Moner has left us two minor prose works, one in Castilian and one in Catalan, which may be regarded as essays of sorts. I have edited these pieces under the respective title of Tratado sobre la paciencia (see Appendix, pp. 179–84)1 and Resposta a Jaume de Ribes (Oc 127–35). As it normally happens with texts of this nature, their titles or epigraphs in the primary sources either lack any spe- cifi c reference as to genre—Moner’s Tratado, for example, is presented simply as “Sobre paciencia”—or bear miscellaneous designations, such as the resposta, used by Moner, and others that will become apparent presently. One of the most infl uential fi gures that made a capital contribution toward the shaping of the genre of these short compositions, is, no doubt, Alfonso Fernández de Madri- gal, better known as “El Tostado,” the renowned academician who fl ourished in Salamanca toward the mid-1400s. Pedro M. Cátedra has shown that, thanks to such publications as Breviloquio de amor y amiçiçia, numerous questiones— that is commentaries on the Bible—and even the Tratado de cómo al hombre es necesario amar, falsely attributed to El Tostado,2 the latter cast a long shadow on Spanish writers for many successive generations. Of special signifi cance as CocozzellaPeter.indd Sec1:27 12/31/09 8:21:22 PM 28 Fra Francesc Moner’s Bilingual Poetics of Love and Reason signs of El Tostado’s enduring legacy are such...

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