"A frequently brilliant study of pseudo-autobiographical writing in the fourteenth century."--Rupert T. Pickens, University of Kentucky
"New and challenging readings of texts that are central to the understanding of the fourteenth-century literature of Spain, France, and England. . . . [de Looze’s] wide acquaintance with the Western literary tradition from Homer and Virgil to Dickens and Joyce is apparent on every page. His analyses of four medieval authors . . . will become essential reading for all but the most dyed-in-the-wool, dry-as-dust medievalists and will do much to counteract the insularity of many modern theorists."--Ross G. Arthur, York University, Toronto
In Pseudo-Autobiography in the Fourteenth Century, Laurence de Looze examines representative "books of the self" by four prominent medieval authors in order to discover how such texts have been read both as works of autobiographical "truth" and as works of pure literary artifice. In formulating an answer, he considers whether there is anything that inheres in a text that makes it necessarily autobiographical, and how the term autobiography may describe, in these instances, a way of reading more than a way of writing.
In the course of his study, de Looze develops a method of analyzing "pseudo-autobiography" that transcends national boundaries and scholarly subdisciplines, and he applies the methods and concerns of modern literary theory to the interpretation of medieval texts. At the same time, he grounds his study thoroughly in the medieval context of these works, discussing the tradition and its pertinent texts--from Augustine and Boethius through Jean de Meun and beyond--thus providing a substantial chronological and linguistic range for his discussion.
Because it offers insights into the works of four prominent medieval writers and proposes a new, reader-oriented typology of autobiographical writing, de Looze’s study will be of wide interest among medievalists and will also appeal to anyone interested in the kinds of misreading we all engage in when we try to interpret literary texts.
Laurence de Looze is associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Western Ontario and editor-translator of Jean Froissart’s La Prison amoureuse (1994).
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"In an age of much ephemeral criticism and 'analysis by recipe', this meaty and elegantly voiced volume will provoke a discussion and response for a long time to come. De Looze has taken us on a long, bracing run, brought us to new vistas, and helped us to place the fresh landscape on new maps." The Medieval Review
"Readers of Pseudo-Autobiography will find in L. de Looze's book so many original, valuable insights into the art and artifice of fourteenth-century writing and living that even their mere enumeration is impossible here." -- The French Review French Review
"Valuable insights on nearly every page. DeLooze is a perceptive and sensitive reader, well schooled in the more generally useful concepts of post-structuralism and acquainted with a wide range of medieval and modern texts. The book is written with erudition, enthusiasm, and intelligence." - Arthuriana Arthuriana
"A thought-provoking contribution to the current debate on the interpretation of late medieval writing." -- Medium Aevum Medium Aevum
"De Looze's fine reading of texts and the excellent use he makes of contemporary critics (without ever burying his own thoughts in a barrage of criticism) make this a valuable book for our understanding of fourteenth-century poetics." -- Literary Research Literary Research
"DeLooze's explanation of the reason for the existence of the fourteenth-century pseudoautobiography and his exposition of the manner in which it functioned provide for those of us interested in the late Middle Ages in western Europe not only a great deal to ponder but also an excellent basis for further investigation."-- Speculum Speculum