Printer Friendly

The perversion of time: jealousy and lyric in The Romance of Flamenca.

Commentator and editor Ulrich Gschwind wonders why no one has proposed calling the thirteenth-century Occitan Romance of Flamenca the 'Roman d Archimbaut' instead. (1) Gschwind poses an intriguing question, for it is true that Archimbaut, the romance's jealous husband or gilos, undergoes more profound personal changes than either of the other two major characters, and the narrative hinges on these metamorphoses. A short synopsis may be in order for readers unfamiliar with the romance. At the beginning of the extant text (following a manuscript gap), the eponymous Flamenca is married off to Archimbaut, the Count of Bourbon. Originally a perfectly decent man, Archimbaut becomes literally insane with jealousy during their wedding festivities. In a short space of time, he is radically transformed into a gilos. While the figure of the gilos had long been a part of the traditional love triangle of courtly poetry, for an example of the type Archimbaut is endowed with a considerably enhanced depth of character. He paces incessantly and talks to himself; he stops trimming his hair and beard, growing ragged and bestial. Moreover, he withdraws from all social contact. As to his new wife, Archimbaut imprisons Flamenca in a tower with her ladies in waiting, allowing her to leave only for mass and for occasional trips to the mineral baths beneath the town. In the meantime, the eminently courtly Guilhem arrives on the scene, conspiring to liberate Flamenca from this jealous monster and to win her hand. Through erudition, charm, and financial liberality, he manages to enlist those he meets to help him make his plan a success: in order to approach Flamenca at church, Guilhem will impersonate a minor cleric and patiently woo her. In this way, the two exchange only a few words each week for many months, until she finally agrees to consummate their relationship, touching off a passionate affair. The incomplete manuscript ends after Archimbaut is cured of his jealousy following a mysterious promise from his wife, which is also missing from the manuscript.

In his metamorphoses, Archimbaut is the focal point of the romance's courtly intrigue; as villainous gilos, he precipitates the need for the heroism of the amics (the lover, Guilhem) and thus for Flamenca's adultery; he is also the perfect model for what not to do if one wants to be courtly. Archimbaut is thus deeply inscribed within the courtly universe as a force that is antithetical to its values but, as a negative model, also central to its definition. (2) The most important aspect of this negative model concerns time, and although a great deal of criticism has focused on various aspects of temporal structure in Flamenca, (3) the relation between time and jealousy in the text seems to have gone largely unnoticed. In the way it causes him to drop out of society and lock his wife away, Archimbaut's jealousy manifests itself most clearly through a series of temporal symptoms. These symptoms bear witness to an increasingly serious disparity between his own position and the temporal unfolding of the rest of the world; Archimbaut's sociopathy is represented by a stasis or suspension of time that resists the narrative rhythm moving around him. This is a breach in time that Guilhem, for his part, must counteract by rescuing and romancing Flamenca. Guilhem's role in wresting Flamenca away from Archimbaut is to restore a sense of real time, of narrative actuality, to the erotic relationship. In the way that the romance pivots around conflicting temporalities, it also operates an important innovation upon the courtly poetry from which it draws. The imprisoned lady, maniacally possessive husband, and romantic hero correspond to the basic love triangle of the courtly lyric, but with an important difference. Whereas the typical voice of the lyric lover seems to exist outside of time in a world of solitary stasis and eternal anticipation, the version of the heroic lover presented here is timely and attuned to social rhythm; it is instead Guilhem's jealous adversary who is consigned to the static position. In this way, jealousy is a means for the romance to critique implicitly its lyric antecedents by reversing the temporal terms of amics and gilos.

To understand fully the relation of jealousy and time in Flamenca, we must begin by investigating the ways in which the text constitutes a narrative appropriation of the courtly tradition that flourished in the troubadour poetry of the previous century. As Sarah Kay has argued, the romance's characters inhabit a 'courtly community' (4) in both a textual and a social sense as the erotic imagination of the lyric is transposed onto their world. Like the courtly lyric, the romance elaborates an ethics to serve as the basis for sexual relationships, and it often makes specific allusions to troubadour poetry in order to do so. (5) Yet the adoption of earlier lyric models constitutes a challenge both for the narrative and for its main characters. With a great deal of self-consciousness, Flamenca, Archimbaut, and Guilhem suddenly find themselves in the overdetermined roles of the love triangle; they must strive to find and fulfil the meaning of their respective destinies within the courtly community. Thus the romance is about interpreting lyric poetry into narrative action just as much as it is itself a narrative interpretation of lyric themes.

In this shift from lyric to narrative, there is a considerable restructuring which above all concerns the concept of time and which has important consequences for the portrayal of desire and jealousy. In the lyric, time, as a function of desire, is always suspended since desire is never consummated. The lyric lover is positioned between a vague, nostalgic past (or one which is infinitely repeated and undifferentiated from the time of the poem) and a merely hypothetical future when desire is to be fulfilled. As Jean-Charles Huchet puts it, the time of troubadour poetry is 'un present indetermine, reduit au present de la plainte amoureuse pris entre un passe revolu et un futur indetermine'. (6) The present of the lyric lover is not so much present as it is void, eternally suspended and resistant to any location along a schema of temporal progression. The courtly lover is, in a sense, an exile from time, as Bernart de Ventadorn witnesses:
   Lo tems vai e ven e vire
   per jorns, per mes e per ans,
   et eu, las, no-n sais que dire,
   c'ades es us mos talans.
   Ades es us e no-s muda,
   c'una-n volh e-n al volguda
   don anc non aic jauzimen.
   (XXX. 1-7) (7)

Time comes and goes, returning through days, through months, and through years, and I, alas, know not what to say, for my longing is ever one. It is ever one and does not change, for I want and have wanted one woman, from whom I have never had joy.

And he never will, if lyric poetics hold out. As has often been suggested, the perpetual tension of desire in the courtly lyric is a fundamental structuring principal of the poetic form itself, which would presumably collapse were that desire to be satisfied. (8) Troubadour poetry is founded upon the suspension of time just as it is founded on the suspension of desire. As in Bernart de Ventadorn, the time comes and goes, moving around the yearning lover as a stream moves around rocks, never involving him in it.

If the voice of the lyric lover appears to claim its own subjective experience of time, that claim does not sound without a good deal of irony, since it simultaneously removes the speaker from the very world that seems to make time possible. The time from which the lyric lover is exiled is always defined by a collectivity, often both social and naturalized. This is what drives the vernal topos used to open scores of troubadour poems. For instance, in Guilhem IX's Ab la dolchor del temps novel', the speaker evokes a spring landscape overflowing with new life:
   Ab la dolchor del temps novel
   Foillo li bosc, e li aucel
   Chanton chascus en for lati
   Segon to vers del novel chan;
   Adonc esta ben qu'om s'aisi
   D'acho don hom a plus talan.
   (X. 1-6) (9)

With the sweetness of the new season, the woods leaf out and the birds sing, each in its own Latin according to the rhythm of the new song; so it is right that a man take comfort from that which he desires the most.

Guilhem sets up this opening, however, only to create physical and emotional distance between his speaker and the landscape of accord in the next stanza: 'De lai don plus m'es bon e bel | Non vei mesager ni sagel' (II. 7-8: 'From that place where all is good and beautiful to me I see no messenger or letter coming'). In this spring opening, the joy of a new season takes place where everyone but the lover is: the lady, the court, and the hypothetical messenger are all there (lai), as are even the birds, annexed to the human collective in their singing and their own 'Latin' vernaculars. The poet uses flora and fauna in part to naturalize time, and he synchronizes natural and social time in order to heighten our sense of the individual's alienation from both. The seeming geographical distance, then, is equally a temporal distance: the lover alone is impervious to the unfolding of the seasons, which are markers of collectively experienced time.

Certainly, such an exile from time maybe conceived of as self-imposed and even positive, as in Raimbaut d'Aurenga's principle of the flors enversa, (10) where the poet's amorous joy makes him experience an inner springtime at odds with the icy world around him:
   Ar resplan la flors enversa
   Pels trencans rancx e pels tertres,
   Cals flors? Neus, gels e conglapis
   Que cotz e destrenh e trenca;
   Don vey morz quils, critz, brays, siscles
   En fuelhs, en rams e en giscles.
   Mas mi ten vert e jauzen Joyz
   Er quan vey secx los dolens croys.
   (XXXIV. 1-8)

Now abounds the inverted flower along the cutting cliffs and hills. What flower? Snow, ice, and frost which sting, torment, and cut, wherefore I see calls, cries, trills, and songs dead in the leaves, branches, and twigs. But Joy keeps me green and rejoicing now when I see the wretched ones withered.

'Cals flors?' ('What flower?') indeed; we can read this interjection in the third verse as a perplexed question from those inside the temporal world (whom the speaker calls wretched) looking out on the speaker, who does not see snow, ice, and frost as temporal markers, but rather exists in his own perpetual springtime of Joy. Whether involuntary or self-imposed, whether conceived of as bitter martyrdom or as the ecstatic delirium of a timeless love, what remains a constant throughout so much troubadour lyric is that time stands still for the lover; or rather, in so doing, it ceases to be time according to its definition as a collective experience.

In direct opposition to the lyric, narrative does not run on the perpetual suspension of desire in social and temporal exile, but rather on action. However, the fact that Flamenca is an Occitan romance poses special problems for its development of narrative form. Unlike French romance, it must negotiate a way of drawing upon the lyric poetry that dominates the Occitan tradition and of simultaneously asserting itself as distinct from that model. (11) Not surprisingly, the concept of time lies at the heart of this difference. As has been discussed amply elsewhere, the discrete courtly community of Flamenca uses the ecclesiastical calendar to structure the narrative, presenting in the minutest detail a succession of real calendar years through the progression of their feast days. (12) The liturgical fulfils the lyrical by providing it with a real time frame in which its desires may actually come to fruition. Love is to be experienced by community members on the inside of time, where, to use Huchet's terms, it is 'inscrit dans les vies, a Finterieur desquelles il fait evenement'. (13) That is, as the narrative articulates a courtly community, the hypothetical love-time evolves into something concrete, normative, and socially integrated, finally bringing lovers into the fold and giving them a real identity in time and space. Marie-Dominique Luce-Dudemaine writes that 'dans Flamenca, aimer devient pour les dames un devoir dont elles doivent s'acquitter en temps opportun, et le fait d'inspirer l'amour cree vis-a-vis de l'amant des obligations precises, dont la premiere consiste a ne pas le faire languir indefiniment'. (14) When courtly love passes from lyric to narrative, into a real ethics with precise obligations to be put to work in a well-defined collectivity (here, thirteenth-century Bourbonnais society and the textual community of courtly love), it passes from theoretical time to a notion of real time. (15)

In our romance, for example, at a given moment in their affair of words, Flamenca finally asks Guilhem when exactly he would like to meet and make love, thus shattering the suspension of lyric desire: 'A cel jorn "cora"? li demanda' (1. 5487: 'On this day Flamenca asks "When?"'). Flamenca also believes that it is only right to acquiesce to her lover's demands after a specific period of time--one year, to be precise:
   Diabols es fers, [s']a cap d'an
   Merces non l'a d'aitan forsada
   Qu'a son amic, una vegada
   Savals, que no fassa plazer
   Tal que de leis non desesper.
   (ll. 4274-78)

She'd be a wild devil indeed, who after a year of waiting, would not be obliged by mercy to give her lover pleasure at least once, so that he not despair of her.

Moreover, Flamenca's one-year rule is located within a normative social context. We see this vividly, for example, when a group of girls skips merrily past Guilhem, singing out the community's approval of the couple's planned affair, again on the basis of a specific moment in time, the kalenda maia. The choice of this ancient Maytime celebration is significant because, in troubadour poetry, the kalenda maia is a temporal reference more famous for signalling the rhythm of the seasons to which the lover is impervious than for suggesting that the lover actually feels in tune with the time. Here is Raimbaut de Vaqueiras:
   Kalenda maia
   ni fueills de faia ni chans d'auzell ni flors de glaia
   non es qe-m plaia,
   pros dona gaia,
   tro q'un isnell messagier aia
   del vostre bell cors, qi-m retraia
   plazer novell q'amors m'atraia
   e jaia,
   e-m traia
   vas vos, donna veraia,
   e chaia
   de plaia
   -l gelos, anz qe-m n'estraia.
   (XV. 1-14) (16)

Neither calends of May, nor leaf of beech, nor song of bird, nor gladiolus gives me pleasure, lady noble and gay, until I have a swift messenger from your beautiful body to tell me news of new pleasures brought me by love and joy; and I draw to you, true lady; and let me crush and strike the jealous man before I depart from here.

Again, the lover does not take his cue from the acknowledged signs of the seasons but rather lives in the frozen time of the tro que (the until). We also note that while the gilos does enter the picture, the lover has no real hope of vanquishing him as he desires, since, suspended outside of time, he is incapable of action. In Flamenca, however, the kalenda maia (as both lyric genre and time of vernal celebration) becomes a positive, real-time occasion for amorous endeavours:
   Tot dreit davan Guillem passeron
   Cantan una kalenda maia
   Que dis: 'Cella domna ben aia
   Que non fai languir son amic,
   No non tem gelos ni castic,
   Qu'il non an a son cavallier
   Em bosc, em prat o en vergier,
   E dins sa cambra non famene
   Per so que meilz ab lui s'abene,
   E-l gilos jassa daus l'esponda.'
   (ll. 3234-43)

They passed just in front of Guilhem singing a kalenda maia which goes: 'May that lady be blessed who neither makes her lover languish nor fears the jealous man or others' blame, nor lets them stop her from going with her knight to wood, field, or orchard, or from bringing him into her chamber the better to take pleasure with him, even while the jealous man is at the bedside.'

In this expression of the triumph of love and the new season, the community even provides the adulterous woman with the words she will say to justify her conduct in order to banish the gilos, putting into action what a lyric voice like that of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras can only ever dream:
   E, si parla, qu'il li responda:
   No-m sones mot, faitz vos en lai,
   Qu'entre mos bras amic[s] jai.
   Kalenda maia. E vai s'en.
   (ll. 3244-47)

And should he speak out, let her respond: 'Don't say a word about it, go away, for my lover lies in my arms. It is kalenda maia.' And away he goes.

Kalenda maia, like a magic formula of temporality, causes the gilos to disappear from the bedroom and from the temporal structure of the narrative. The presence of the community valorizes erotic desire, radically reversing the perspective of the lover into that of the norm, located along a schema of temporal progression, rather than the exception and the exile.

The amorous community of Flamenca aligns itself against the gilos, whose possessive behaviour first produces the need for heroic, adulterous love. What, then, is the relation of jealousy and temporality in Flamenca? The answer is nothing less than an exchange of places between the time-exiled lyric lover and the villainous gilos, an exchange that brings about the reintegration of the lover within community time. As I have suggested, Archimbaut is central to the construction of this community through his negative example; this will prove especially true through his resistance to community time. In the lyric, the gilos is a nondescript figure who serves merely to hold the desires of his wife and her would-be lover forever at bay. He is important only in the sense that he is a mechanism for the suspension of desire, silently holding up his end of the triangle. Yet the character of Archimbaut constitutes a sharp departure from this lyric sensibility, in that he represents a substantial character, (17) and also in that his objectionable behaviour is presented as an inverse function of community time, a refusal to follow its rhythm.

Accordingly, we can chart a kind of pathological evolution of Archimbaut's jealousy in terms of a growing rupture in the temporal fabric of his world. The first signs of this are manifest in Archimbaut's impatience during his wedding to Flamenca, which is an idealized synthesis of liturgy and the courtly tradition, combining the solemn sacrament of marriage with secular festivities involving a tournament and the recitations of minstrels. We are concerned with community rhythm here because the wedding is a place where the private and public spheres intersect, and where Flamenca and Archimbaut are expected to make a gift of their time to the community along with their material goods:
   Tot son tesaur gent adubri
   E largamen don'e despen,
   E saup li bon qui del siu pren.
   .xvii. jorns duret e plus
   Li cort[z], et anc non saup negus
   A quals dels jorns mieil[z] li estet,
   Car totz jorn[z] li cortz melluret
   Per conduh e per mession.
   (ll. 966-73)

He generously opened his treasury, giving and spending liberally, and feeling good when one took from him. The court lasted seventeen days and more, and no one could have said which day had been the best, for each day the court was better and better in hospitality and in generosity.

Archimbaut's court is exemplary and Archimbaut himself appears generous, but the narrative hints at his coming downfall by his private attitude towards this celebration of community time, in his impatience for his nuptials with Flamenca to be over so that they can finally consummate the marriage:
   A N'Archimbaut fes destorbier
   Car l'en fan aitain longa festa.
   Ben fon passada ora sexta
   Avan que l'agues esposada.
   (ll. 296-99)

Archimbaut was greatly vexed that the ceremony was so long. The hour of sext was good and gone before he had wed Flamenca.

Archimbaut's impatience suggests that he is unhappy about the time he must concede to the community so that his marriage may be sanctified by it and integrated into it. He is frustrated with the slow speed of the sacrament itself and also with the more informal, but hardly less important, secular rituals surrounding it--namely, the tournament and the performance of the minstrels. Such rituals serve to temporalize the sacrament by situating it within a specific literary and historical frame: the would-be community of courtly love and the thirteenth-century world of Bourbon in which that community takes shape.

Archimbaut's initial impatience puts him at risk of further deviation from courtliness, and soon he is transformed definitively into a gilos. This process is first depicted through the interruption of an ordered dance, both a literal part of the wedding festivities and an allegorical meeting in rhythmic movement of the personified figures of Joy, Youth, and Courtliness: Jois e Jovens an-Is balz levatz | Ab lur cosina Na Proesa' (ll. 9748-49: 'Joy and Youth opened the ball with their cousin Lady Courage'). The personification of Covetousness infects this orderly progression of time to make its participants obsessed with a purely hypothetical moment when they will no longer have the object of their desires: 'Oi! Oi! tot caira lur burbans, | Ges quec jorn non er Sanz Johans' (ll. 755-56: 'Oh! Soon enough their vanity will fall flat, for it will not be every day the feast of St John'). Thus jealousy operates first as a disruption of time, by moving the individual's sense of self out of the community-structured present and back into the hypothetical, subjective future of the lyric, which here is a hypothesis of loss rather than one of fulfilled desire. Loss or fulfilment, both are purely imaginary, and as such are found lacking in this world of narrative action.

After Covetousness has infected Archimbaut with jealousy, the discord in his character becomes truly problematic, manifesting itself in an attempt to hijack community time by altering the hours for his own benefit. In order to speed up the festivities so that he can have Flamenca all to himself, he declares that vespers be sounded early:
   Pero un escudier appella
   E dis li: Ta vespras sonar,
   Quar ben er ora de sopar
   Quan las aura le reis auzidas.'
   (ll. 914-17)

But he called a horseman and said to him, 'Have vespers sounded, for then it will be time for supper when the king has heard them.'

Archimbaut's desire here is to possess time as an individual, a desire both perverse and impossible in the world of the romance. The premature tolling of these bells, then, is a deeply sinister moment in which we can hear the whole of the community stop and turn in horror at such a discordant note:
   Mas la donnas qu'eron issidas,
   Als fenestrals, ques esgardavon
   Los cavalliers que biordavon,
   Quant auzon ques hom vespras sona,
   Dison: 'Non es ancara nona,
   Et hom Bona las vespras ja!'
   (ll. 918-23)

But the ladies who had gone to the windows and were watching the jousting knights, said upon hearing vespers sounded, 'It is not yet nones, and already they sound vespers!'

Happily, the courtly community is not disrupted for long. In fact, its members appear to have an innate sense of what time it is, independent of the bells, and they go more or less about their business, refusing Archimbaut's dictate and quickly re-establishing their rhythm:
   'So marit perda qui la va
   Quandis cavalliers i biort!
   Ja per vespras nom perdam cort.'
   (ll. 924-26)

'Let the lady who leaves the tournament when knights still joust lose her husband! For vespers we will not abandon court.'

It is not enough to manipulate the outward signs of temporality in order to master time, for they are tied to a natural, collective perception of the world. On the other hand, failing to respect these signs and to heed their rhythm has dire consequences for the individual. Thus, Archimbaut is characterized throughout the romance by his discordance with liturgical time:
   Li gens per to mostier s'arenga.
   Quan fon venguda et intrada
   E la tersa mouta sonada,
   Adoncs venc le fers aversiers
   Per digastendonz totz derriers.
   (ll. 2437-41)

The faithful lined up for mass, and when they had all come, all entered, and the third toll of the bell had sounded, in came Archimbaut after everybody else looking crazed and bedraggled.

Just as he is habitually late for mass, so too is he scandalously early to leave:
   Apres 'missa est' s'en issia
   Enz Archimbautz, que ges mieidia,
   No [n] i aten ni hora nona.
   (ll. 1449-51)

After 'Ite, missa est', Archimbaut would leave, without waiting for the noon prayer or for the hour of nones.

Archimbaut moves in the opposite direction from everybody else. While he falls out of step with church time, Guilhem and Flamenca get to know each other through the rhythm of the liturgical year and the mass itself, holding fast to the community.

Jealousy in Flamenca is above all a perversion of time, a resistance to collective temporality. In the jealous man's obsessive efforts at the possession of time, he is himself exiled from it. Returning to the comparison with the lyric, what I would like now to emphasize is that Archimbaut's behaviour does not so much resemble that of the jealous man of the lyric as it does that of the lyric lover, who stands always outside of time--outside the real consummation of desire--by standing in subjective resistance to its passage as viewed by the rest of the world. A grotesque resemblance to the lyric lover is a fundamental trait of Archimbaut's jealousy. For while he is able to make love to his wife, and indeed is entrusted with this conjugal duty, he does not fulfil it. Describing the way Flamenca is imprisoned, the text reads:
   Lains caup ill e sas donzellas,
   El gelos, si-s volgues ab ellas,
   Mais defors sec ad una part
   A guisa d'ors e de laupart.
   (ll. 1427-30)

The tower could hold Flamenca and her ladies, and Archimbaut too had he wanted to be there, but he preferred to sit on the outside, in the manner of a bear or a leopard.

Archimbaut's bestial nature here points to his existence outside a normative and civilizing time scheme; this is not the natural world of birds singing in unison with mankind but rather the image of solitary and murderous beasts. Because he does not adhere to notions of community time, Archimbaut is not only less than courtly, but in a society that measures all things by courtliness, he is less than human. (18) Always exterior to his wife, Archimbaut reverts to a perverse version of amor de lonh (19) by shutting her away, even from himself. Archimbaut's behaviour is perverse precisely because he is not at a distance, neither in time nor in space, and has every right to be in his wife's presence.

Archimbaut's jealousy is thus perversely self-perpetuating in much the same way as the anguished tension of unfulfilled desire in the lyric. Just as the troubadour stages an infinite cycle of frustrated longing, so too does Archimbaut stage the impossibility of sex with his wife, and in so doing causes her to satisfy her own desires in the arms of another man. Though Archimbaut begins as an impatient lover, his sexual frustration comes to recreate itself endlessly, even in the absence of real obstacles. The subjective resistance of the flors enversa becomes an image of villainy, suggesting that the sustained tension of the lyric is in fact unsustainable as a literary model. The 'haves' and 'have-nots' of the courtly universe (20) switch places completely: it is now the amics who possesses the object of desire and the gilos for whom the lady is inaccessible, shut up in a tower. Jealousy does not simply make Archimbaut grotesque, but positions him precisely in the non-time traditionally occupied by the courtly lover, ridiculing the endless waiting game whose irresolution is central to lyric structure. It is in this way that Flamenca manages to reinscribe the courtly lyric while distancing itself from the temporal poetics of that tradition.

Archimbaut's negative example clears the way for a revision of the amics, whose new strategy will be to operate patiently within the bounds of community time rather than positioning himself against it. Guilhem happens to be an accomplished student of the troubadours:
   Chansons e lais, descortz e vers,
   Serventes et autres cantars
   Sabia plus que nuls joglars,
   Neis Daniel que saup ganren
   No-s pogr-ab lui penre per ren.
   (ll. 1706-10)

As for cansos and lais, descorts and vers, sirventes and other forms of song, he knew more than any minstrel. Even Arnaut Daniel who was so learned counted for nothing in comparison. (21)

Guilhem has taken the lessons of troubadour lyric to heart, but only to break them free from their non-time into action. He does not pine in solitude for his beloved, but rather patiently insinuates himself into the good graces of the townspeople through a series of clever manoeuvres and displays of generosity. After charming the town's innkeeper and his wife with gifts, Guilhem persuades them to move out and cede him the entire inn for his seduction plans; he likewise persuades the priest to let him impersonate his young assistant, whom he sends to Paris to study for two years, and he hires a team of masons to build a tunnel between his lodgings and the baths, where he hopes to see Flamenca more privately (ll. 3371-412). Guilhem then goes about his ambitious scheme by spending many weeks covertly communicating with Flamenca during the few seconds he has access to her during mass, driving himself slowly but surely like a wedge into the one time and place which still connects her to the community. Why does Guilhem succeed? Because everyone loves him; he is a socially integrated being, adept at working with society (by greasing its palms and falling into its rhythm) rather than against it by resistance to its temporal structure. As narrative inheritor of the lyric tradition, Guilhem's role is to liberate desire from timelessness and put it into action.

Through Guilhem, Archimbaut is punished for his jealousy by a mechanism of reverse causality that seems particularly well fitted to the crime. For he is not jealous because his wife is unfaithful; rather his wife is unfaithful because he is jealous. In his attempt to control time for himself, he has paradoxically unleashed the very chain of events that causes the hypothetical future of adultery to come about. By stepping out of the relentless and collective unfolding of time, Archimbaut effectively steps out of the story, and it continues with another in his place. Time here is not to be trifled with, for it will persist despite anyone's best efforts to the contrary.

Later in the text, Flamenca sends Guilhem away, and Archimbaut appears to become cured of his jealousy through a mechanism that is not clear owing to manuscript gaps: 'Que N'Archimbautz era garitz | E daveras desgilositz' (ll. 6939-40: 'Lord Archimbaut was cured and ceased being jealous'). He has, therefore, re-established contact with the courtly community: 'Et a cobrada cortesia' (l. 6778: 'And he recovered courtliness'). The recovered Archimbaut decides to hold a great tournament-in accordance, naturally, with the right season:
   --Ancar, fai s'el, vos dirai mais:
   Lai en pascor, que-l tems er gais
   Vueil que tengam aici tornei.
   (ll. 6705-07)

I have still more to say to you: at Easter, when the season will be gay, I wish to hold here a tournament.

When Archimbaut first becomes jealous, he steps outside of time as if frozen; the tournament is his attempt to re-enter the temporal world as well as an effort to relive the time he so hastily dismissed during his wedding festivities. Yet it is as if, a medieval Rip Van Winkle, he awakes and believes it to be still the moment prior to his enchantment; life has long gone on without him, his wife having found a substitute. When Guilhem comes back to town for the tournament, Archimbaut gives him a warm welcome; as for Flamenca and Guilhem, they play along with the time-warp scenario, pretending that they never met. Archimbaut, newly freed from jealousy and perfectly oblivious, facilitates their further contact during the tournament: 'Quar N'Archimbautz lo mes el lieg | On ab sa domna poc jazer' (ll. 7678-7g: 'For Lord Archimbaut had put him in the very bed where he was able to take pleasure with his wife').

Is the reinsertion of the jealous man into community time ever possible, then, or will he be forever running behind? This is a question left hanging by the sole, fragmentary manuscript, which stages Archimbaut's cure and return to courtliness only to reintroduce Guilhem and to remain silent on the issue of whether Archimbaut and Flamenca manage to establish a monogamous and selfless union or whether Guilhem and Flamenca rekindle a lasting affair. We are left, however, with the implicit suggestion that the lyric model is as out of step with time as is Archimbaut in his madness. While the values of courtly poetry are generally left intact--or indeed, celebrated--in Flamenca, they are found lacking from a temporal standpoint and must be updated to fit the demands of the textual community of romance narrative. It is for this reason that gilos and amics switch places: jealousy becomes a pivotal device to reverse the terms of the lyric, transforming the non-time of the outcast lover into the site of a temporal community of desire.

(1) Le Roman de Flamenca: nouvelle occitane du 13e siecle, 2 vols (Berne: Francke, 1976), I, 7. All references to the text of Flamenca are from the edition included in Les Troubadours, ed. and trans. by Rene Lavaud and Rene Nelli, 2 vols (Bruges: Desclee de Brouwer, 1960-66), I, 619-1063. All translations from Occitan texts are my own unless otherwise noted.

(2) See Guy Mermier, 'La Notion de perversion dans Flamenca', Romanica Gandensia, 16 (1976), 195-203 (p. 199).

(3) See e.g. Ute Limacher-Riebold, 'L'importance du calendrier dans le Roman de Flamenca', in Time and Eternity: The Medieval Discourse, ed. by Gerhard Jaritz and others, International Medieval Research, 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), pp. 109-26; ead., Entre 'novas' et 'romans': pour l'interpretation de Flamenca' (Turin: Edizioni dell'Orso, 1997). See also Sarah Kay, 'The Contrasting Use of Time in the Romances of Jaufre and Flamenca', Medioevo romanzo, 6 (1979), 37-62.

(4) Subjectivity in Troubadour Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 203. See also 'Le Roman de Flamenca et le probleme du deja-dit', Revue des longues romanes, 92 (1988), 41-60.

(5) Kay, 'Le Roman de Flamenca', p. 54, notes specific instances of resemblance to the works of Peire Rogier and Giraut de Bornelh and a general resemblance to the dialogic tradition as inaugurated by Raimbaut d'Aurenga. Jean-Charles Huchet discusses references to Marcabru (L'Etreinte des mots: 'Flamenca', entre poesie et roman (Caen: Paradigme, 1993), p. 193).

(6) L'Etreinte des mots, p. 164.

(7) From The Songs of Bernart de Ventadorn, ed. and trans. by Stephen G. Nichols, Jr., and others, University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, 39 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962). I have adopted the translation which appears in this edition.

(8) See Pierre Bec, 'Stagnation et acceleration du temps chez Bernard de Ventadour', in La Lettre et la voix: de la 'litterature' medievale, ed. by Paul Zumthor (Paris: Seuil, 1987), pp. 29-37.

(9) From Les Chansons de Guillaume IX, due d'Aquitaine, ed. and trans. by Alfred Jeanroy (Paris: Champion, 1913).

(10) From The Life and Works of the Troubadour Raimbaut d'Orange, ed. by Walter T. Pattison (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1952).

(11) See Jean-Charles Huchet, Le Roman occitan medieval (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1991), pp. 7-38.

(12)Kay, 'The Contrasting Use of Time', p. 42, argues convincingly that these are the years 1231-35. On the question of dates, see also Rita LeJeune, 'Le calendrier du Roman de Flamenca', in LeJeune, Litterature et societe occitane an Moyen Age (Liege: Marche Romane, 1979), pp. 355-78.

(13) L'Etreinte des mots, p. 166.

(14) 'Un nouvel art d'aimer, la contestation des valeurs courtoises dans Flamenca', Revue des langues romanes, 92 (1988), 61-75 (p. 62). While it is a common convention for troubadours to reproach their ladies for making them languish, it is virtually unheard of for a female voice to acknowledge such a duty towards a lover.

(15) See e.g. Kay, 'The Contrasting Use of Time', p. 51. Kay notes that the romance creates for its audience 'a state of mind involving not suspense but expectation', since we are often told the outcome of events before they occur.

(16) From The Poems of the Troubadour Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, ed. and trans. by Joseph Linskill (The Hague: Mouton, 1964).

(17) See Mermier, 'La Notion de perversion', pp. 196-97. Mermier (p. 196) correctly distinguishes Archimbaut as a more complete character than the eponymous Castia Gilos of Raimon Vidal's nova, though it is interesting to note that the gilos plays a central role in this other important example of Occitan narrative. See Nouvelles occitanes du Moyen Age, ed. and trans. by Jean-Charles Huchet (Paris: Flammarion, 1992), pp. 223-49.

(18) See Erich Kohler, 'Les troubadours et la jalousie', in Melanges de langue et de litterature du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance offerts a Jean Frappier, professeur a la Sorbonne, par ses collegues, ses eleves et ses amis (Geneva: Droz, 1970), pp. 553-59.

(19) The troubadour Jaufre Rudel is traditionally associated with this term, meaning distant love or love from afar. See 'Lancan li jorn sont lonc en mai', poem v in Les Chansons de Jaufre Rudel, ed. and trans. by Alfred Jeanroy (Paris: Champion, 1915).

(20) The expression is Leo Spitzer's: L'Amour lointain de Jaufre Rudel et le sens poetique des troubadours, University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, 5 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944), pp. 1-2.

(21) I am in agreement with editors Lavaud and Nelli (p. 732), who read 'Daniel' here as a clear reference to the virtuoso troubadour.


COPYRIGHT 2009 Modern Humanities Research Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Moreau, John
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Previous Article:Whispering to the converted: narrative communication in Rudyard Kipling's Letters of Marque and Indian fiction.
Next Article:Transforming fortune: reading and chance in Christine de Pizan's Mutacion de Fortune and Chemin de long estude.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |