The Color of Melancholy: The Uses of Books in the Fourteenth Century

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JHU Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 186 pages
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In the fourteenth century, French writers saw themselves in the winter of literature, a time for retreat into reflection. They were beset by wars, plague, famine, and social unrest. In the midst of their troubles they made an important discovery: books.

In The Color of Melancholy, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet explores the subject of books and literate culture during the period in which vernacular literature began to displace Latin as the medium of intellectual discourse. Under the patronage of Charles V, large numbers of Latin texts were translated into French, opening up new contemplations of history, memory, and memorial. The literary heritage of the past was again available and, at the same time, the language of the day was approved not merely as a means of transmission but also for the expression of new ideas, new events, and even the self.

" The Color of Melancholy is a remarkable book, both for its impressive erudition and the rich and original insights it offers into the literary history of the fourteenth century. The book focuses its analysis on a unique and important period in the history of French medieval thought, a period in which we can witness, thanks in large part to the subtle and eloquent text of Cerquiglini, the solidification of the book as a privileged object for the medieval writers and poets, an object that inherits some of its qualities from the earlier devotion to learning in general. It is an original and most needed contribution to the resurgent medieval studies and will prove indispensable for any scholar or student of the medieval period." -- Milad Doueihi, The Johns Hopkins University


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About the author (1997)

Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet is professor of French literature of the Middle Ages at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the author of Guillaume de Machaut et l'écriture au XIVe siècle.

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