Machaut and the Medieval Apprenticeship Tradition

Machaut and the Medieval Apprenticeship Tradition

Truth, Fiction and Poetic Craft

Douglas Kelly





A close examination of an important theme in Machaut's works.
"A milestone in Machaut studies and in late-medieval French literature in general. Machaut, already considered the seminal figure in late-medieval poetics and music, here comes across in these respects more clearly than ever. Kelly also further contextualises him within what we might call the authorial `apprenticeship tradition' of Boethius, the Roman de la Rose, Dante, and later Gower, Chaucer, and Christine de Pizan. The fruit of one of the field's most distinguished scholars today." Nadia Margolis, Mount Holyoke College.

Guillaume de Machaut was celebrated in the later Middle Ages as a supreme poet and composer, and accordingly, his poetry was recommended as a model for aspiring poets. In his Voir Dit, Toute Belle, a young, aspiring poet, convinces the Machaut figure to mentor her. This volume examines Toute Belle as she masters Machaut's dual arts of poetry and love, focusing on her successful apprenticeship in these arts; it also provides a thorough review of Machaut's art of love and art of poetry in his dits and lyricsm, and the previous scholarship on these topics. It goes on to treat Machaut's legacy among poets who, like Toute Belle, adapted his poetic craft in new and original ways. A concluding analysis of melodie identifies the synaesthetic pleasure that late medieval poets, including Machaut, offer their readers.

Douglas Kelly is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


April 2014
378 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843843726
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004150
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Table of Contents

Machaut's Evolving Conception of Good Love
The Vicissitudes of Good Love: A Quandary?
The Scope of Toute Belle's Art of Poetry
Examples and Their Reconfiguration
The Debate Mode
Machaut as Pre-Text: Imitation and Emulation
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Bibliography of Secondary Studies


This is a significant and insightful book of impressive scope, given the range of Machaut's corpus that it embraces through dexterously detailed intertextual reading. SPECULUM

Essential reading for any Machaut scholar. (It) will be of incalculable value to future scholars seeking to navigate the works of this formidable medieval magister. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

(A)n important new contribution to late medieval literary studies and a very worthy continuation of Douglas Kelly's long and influential bibliography on Guillaume de Machaut and his successors. Kelly, like the great poet to whom he has devoted much of his career, distinguishes himself as both a master of traditional forms and an exciting innovator. MODERN PHILOLOGY

The author does a good job of surveying previous scholarship . . . and in analyzing Machaut's variegated poetry he touches on allegory, poetic art, assimilation, bestiary, commonplaces, debate, exemplary figures, gender, life and love, music, personification, reader and audience, subtlety, truth, and virtue. Summing up: Highly recommended. CHOICE

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