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.
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