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Debate and Dialogue

Alain Chartier in his Cultural Context

Debate and Dialogue by Emma Cayley
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Alain Chartier was one of medieval France's most influential writers, but has been overlooked by modern criticism. This is the first full-length study of his work in its cultural context. It reconsiders the French verse debates in particular, based on their material context of transmission and on similarities with his French and Latin prose works. - ;In early humanist France two debating traditions converge: one literary and vernacular, one intellectual and conducted mainly via Latin epistles. Debate and Dialogue demonstrates how the two fuse in the vernacular verse debates of Alain Chartier, secretary and notary at the court of Charles VI, and later, Charles VII. In spite of considerable contemporary praise for Chartier, his work has remained largely neglected by modern critics. This study shows how Chartier

participates in a movement that invests a vernacular poetic with moral and political significance, inspiring such social engagements as the fifteenth-century poetic exchange known as the Querelle de la Belle Dame sans mercy.

Emma Cayley sets Chartier in the context of a late-medieval debating climate through the use of a new model of participatory poetics which she terms the collaborative debating community. This is a dynamic and generative social grouping based on Brian Stock's model of the textual community, as well as Pierre Bourdieu's sociological categories of field, habitus, and capital. This dialectical model takes account of the socio-cultural context of literary

production, and suggests the fundamentally competitive yet collaborative nature of late-medieval poetry. Cayley draws an analogy here between literary debates and game-playing, engaging with the game theory of Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois, and discusses the manuscript context of such literary debates as the materialization of this poetic

game. The collaborative debating community postulated affords unique insights into the dynamics of late-medieval compositional and reading practices. - ;an important study... - Margaret McGowan, TLS;a comprehensive study...Cayleys detailed study of the manuscripts will make this book indispensable to Chartier scholars. - Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, French Studies;...provides an extremely clear and lucid analysis of late medieval literary French debate culture and is also firmly built upon an impressive knowledge of the manuscripts... This is surely a model that offers rich possibilities for the intellectual historian. - Craig Taylor, Nottingham Medieval Studies;Cayley presents a lucidly expressed and meticuolously organized argument. This elegant and engaging monograph conveys the 'vigorous' nature of late medieval French poetic culture and Chartier's pivotal position in it. Its own achievements invite and inspire further research among literary scholars and book historians into the poetic activity of fifteenth-century France. - Helen J. Swift, MLR, 103.1

Clarendon Press; September 2006
271 pages; ISBN 9780191537332
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Title: Debate and Dialogue
Author: Emma Cayley
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