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Textual SubjectivityThe Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics$
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A. C. Spearing

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187240

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187240.001.0001

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(p.174) 6 Lyrics
Textual Subjectivity

A. C. Spearing (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns from narrative to lyric, traditionally seen as expressing its writer’s own feelings. The ‘sincerity-topos’ is studied in the troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn and as embodied in late-medieval English love lyrics. Analyses of lovers’ complaints reveal their increasing awareness of their textual nature; some function as dramatic monologues, but others undermine the illusion of a speaker’s voice and presence. The chapter concludes with a detailed analysis of Chaucer’s Complaint Unto Pity, demonstrating that the effect of its organization about a sovereign centre, its allegorical wit, and its incorporation of a textual petition can be valued only if it is read as writing, incorporating two incompatible discourses, not as the speech of a single narratorial persona.

Keywords:   Bernart de Ventadorn, Chaucer, complaint, Complaint Unto Pity, dramatic monologue, lyric, persona, sincerity-topos, troubadour, voice

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