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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

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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 Two: Profiles by Metaphysics 83

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TWO Profiles by Metaphysics From Consolatio to Metaphysical Allegory Moner’s longest composition, the prose work entitled La noche, shares various essential features with two of his other major pieces—namely, Bendir de dones and L’ànima d’Oliver. Characteristically, the author casts himself in the role of protagonist, fi rst-person speaker and plaintive lover. But, before entering fully into the domain of fi ction, he starts out by recounting in detail an ordinary occurrence of his everyday life. Specifi cally, he tells us about a stroll he takes at night or at dusk around a well-defi ned area, quite familiar to him. So, in Bendir and L’ànima Moner refers to, respectively, the section of Barcelona in the immediate surroundings of the Cathedral and, as we have seen, the road extending north of the city up to the Vall d’Hebron. Similarly, in the exordium of La noche Moner deals with the countryside in the hinterlands of Catalonia in the vicinity of Torà, a town where he is spending a day or two as a guest in the house of the Count of Cardona, his patron.1 What is particularly striking in Bendir, L’ànima, and La noche is Moner’s use of a down-to-earth ambience and recognizable topography as a concrete frame for an extraordinary event of a visionary nature. In La noche this interfac- CocozzellaPeter.indd Sec1:83 12/31/09 8:21:25 PM 84 Fra Francesc Moner’s Bilingual Poetics of Love and Reason ing of the workaday and the imaginary realms deserves close analysis and...

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