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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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Notes Foreword 1. Martí de Riquer provides the essential orientation on March’s life and works (Història de la literatura catalana 2: 471–568). For a sketch of the poet’s life especially in terms of his outstanding career and far-reaching infl uence, see Archer, Th e Pervasive Image: Th e Role of Analogy in the Poetry of Ausiàs March 1–22, and Cocozzella, “Salient Trends in Ausiàs March Criticism: Toward a Holistic Approach.” Th e most authoritative biography of Ausiàs March is found in Jaume Chiner Gimeno’s Ausiàs March i la València del segle XV (1400– 1459). Very handy is the updated overview of March’s biography provided by Costanzo Di Girolamo (Nota informativa / noticia biográfi ca). On the basis of recently discovered evidence, Chiner Gimeno proposes convincingly the year 1400 and the city of Valencia for March’s date and place of birth. Chiner Gimeno lays to rest the previous widely accepted belief that March was born in Gandia (a town in the vicinities of Valencia) in 1397 (“1997, any March? ” 14). See, also: Ausiàs March y las literaturas de su época, ed. Lourdes Sánchez Rodríguez, and Enrique J. Nogueras Valdivieso; and Ausiàs March (1400–1459): premier poète en langue catalane, ed. Georges Martin, and Marie-Claire Zimmermann. 2. Barthes describes the “Text,” poignantly labeled with a capital letter, as “a methodological fi eld . . . experienced only in an activity, a production” and as “always paradoxical” (75). Bar- thes puts forth the notion...

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