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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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Conclusion: A Postscript 175

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Conclusion A Postscript In the course of the foregoing extensive meditation on Moner’s works, a text has been revealed—a wisdom text, so called—that in the long run manifests itself as an existential correlative of the author of fl esh and blood. Concurrently, Moner’s esthetic has been profi led as a psycho-spiritual journey, which starts along a well-trodden path—that of the rhetoric of reasoning—and proceeds into an uncharted region that stretches far and wide beyond the boundaries of ordinary ratiocination. Th is means that, even while engaging in a philosophical and rationalistic discussion, Moner allows his poetic imagination free rein in order to explore areas where reason and logic have little or no sway. In other words, Moner’s probing is artistic in the full sense of the term—that is to say, intuitive rather than discursive; and one area that falls well within the purview of that probing pertains to the phenomenology of conversion. How does the erotic passion convert itself into a wholesome, not to say holy force that enables the faithful lover to rise to the heights of the com- munion with the Divine Being? We realize that, in striving to come to terms with the momentous issues raised by this question, Moner develops, in a subtle emulation of Ausiàs March’s esthetic, a veritable metaphysics of the lover’s CocozzellaPeter.indd Sec1:175 12/31/09 8:21:28 PM 176 Fra Francesc Moner’s Bilingual Poetics of Love and Reason passion. It may be argued that Moner’s metaphysical operation...

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