Conspiracy, plots and plotting, manoeuvrings and machinations, gossip and rumour, tale-telling and the telling of tales.
Our central theme brings together ideas familiar to the 21st-century reader, viewed through the lens of some of the finest and most intriguing pre-Modern texts, originally written in France, Italy, and Spain in the 12th to 17th centuries; texts that are also an important influence on later European and world literatures, and that span a range of forms: short stories and their collection, romance, the treatise and other didactic works, parody, the picaresque.
Allied topics of crime, mystery, and the playing of games open up further issues of writing, rewriting, reading, and commentary: this course will involve elements of literary detection.
All texts will be worked on in English translation, though students will of course have the option of using versions in the original (or a modernized variant) in their final projects.
Érik Desmazières: La Salle des planètes, from his series of illustrations for Jorge Luis Borges’s story ‘The Library of Babel,’ 1997–2001. A new volume of Desmazières’s catalogue raisonné will be published by the Fitch-Febvrel Gallery later this year. Illustration © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.
- Marie de France. Lais (e-text): online
- Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun, trans. Frances Horgan. The Romance of the Rose (Oxford World’s Classics)
- Baldassare Castiglione, trans. George Bull. The Book of the Courtier
ISBN 978-0140441925 [NB this edition lists the author’s first name as “Baldesar”]
- Niccolò Machiavelli, trans. Peter Bondanella. The Prince (Oxford World’s Classics)
- Fernando de Rojas, trans. Lesley Byrd Simpson. The Celestina (University of California Press)
- Anon and Francisco de Quevedo, trans. Michael Alpert. Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler: Two Spanish Picaresque Novels. trans Alpert (Penguin Classics)
and one of the following two books
(half the class will work on the first, the other half on the second):
- Giovanni Boccaccio, trans. G.H. McWilliam. Decameron (Penguin)
- Marguerite de Navarre, trans. Paul Chilton. Heptameron (Penguin)
Course site on UBC Blogs [i.e. here], including supplementary reading list for student presentations and projects.
Books will be available at the UBC Bookstore at the beginning of term (and also elsewhere, online, etc.); all are standard reasonably-priced paperback editions. Do please ensure that you have obtained the right edition, checking especially the name of the translator. Older editions of the same translation usually have the same text and pagination, and buying a second-hand copy can save you money and is therefore a good idea; do check, however, that an older edition is indeed identical to the current one…
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
… will be posted on this site. The introductory week will feature an intriguing movie, a murder mystery set in a 14th-century Italian monastery: The Name of the Rose (1986). Dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, with Sean Connery, Christian Slater, and Ron Perlman. Based on the novel by Umberto Eco (1980). For further details, see the pertinent IMDB and Wikipedia entries, as well as the Wikipedia entry on the Eco novel.
SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS FOR GROUP PROJECTS
Abelard & Heloïse, Letters
Tristan and Yseut
Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances
Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love
Aucassin and Nicolette
Fleur and Blanchefleur
Romance of Reynard
Heldris de Cornuälle, Romance of Silence
Juan Ruiz, The Book of Good Love
La Châtelaine de Vergy
Christine de Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies
Alain Chartier, La Belle Dame sans merci
Machiavelli, The Portable Machiavelli (trans. Bondanella) or The Essential Writings (trans. Musa)
Cervantes, Exemplary Tales
—, Don Quixote
[This list is not comprehensive, and is subject to change.]
Optional extra reading, for summer pre-course preparation: "The Hour of the Pig" (1993)
For further suggestions on pertinent viewing material, please see Meta-meta-medieval: filmography.