Roman De La Rose - Encyclopedia

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ROMAN DE LA ROSE, a French poem dating from the 13th century. The first part was written about 1230 by Guillaume de Lorris, whose work formed the starting-point, about forty years later, for the more extensive section written by Jean de Meun. Guillaume de Lorris wrote an allegory, possibly of an adventure of his own, which is an artistic and beautiful presentment of the love philosophy of the troubadours. In a dream the Lover visits a park to which he is admitted by Idleness. In the park he finds Pleasure, Delight, Cupid and other personages, and at length the Rose. Welcome grants him permission to kiss the Rose, but he is driven away by Danger, Shame, Scandal, and especially by Jealousy, who entrenches the Rose and imprisons Welcome, leaving the Lover disconsolate. The story, thus left incomplete by its inventor, was finished in 19,000 lines by Jean de Meun, who allows the Lover to win the Rose, but only after a long siege and much discourse from Reason, the Friend, Nature and Genius. In the second part, however, the story is entirely subsidiary to the display of the author's encyclopaedic knowledge, to picturesque and poetic digressions, and to violent satire in the manner of the fabliaux against the abuse of power, against women, against popular superstition, and against the celibacy of the clergy. The length of the work and its heterogeneous character proved no bar to its enormous popularity in the middle ages, attested by the 200 MSS. of it which have survived.

The Romaunt of the Rose was translated into English by Chaucer (see the prologue to the Legende of Good Women), but the English version of that, extending to about one-third of the whole work, which has come down to us (see an edition by Dr Max Kaluza, Chaucer Society, 1891), is generally admitted to be by another hand. For a list of books on the vexed question of the authorship of the English translation see G. Korting, Grundriss der engl. Lit. (Munster, 1905, 4th ed. p. 184). A Flemish version by Hein van Aken appeared during Jean de Meun's lifetime, and at the beginning of the 14th century a free imitation, in the form of a series of sonnets, Il Fiore, was written in Italian by the Tuscan poet Durante. Three editions of the Roman de la Rose were printed at Lyons between 1 473 and 1490; two by Antoine Verard (Paris, 1490 ? and 1496 ?), by Jean du Pre (Paris, 1 493 ?), by Nicholas Desprez for Jean Petit (Paris), by Michel le Noir (Paris, 1509 and 1519). In 1503 Jean Molinet produced a prose version. Marot altered and modernized the text (1526), and his corrections were followed in subsequent editions. Modern editions are by Meon (4 vols., 1813), by Francisque Michel (2 vols., 1864), by Croissandeau (pseudonym for Pierre Marteau), with a translation into modern French (Orleans, 5 vols., 1878-80), and a critical edition by E. Langlois, author of Origines et sources du Roman de la Rose (Paris, 1890). There is a modern English version by F. S. Ellis (Temple Classics, 3 vols., 1900).

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