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Keywords: allegory, fiction, Genealogy of the Pagan Gods, poetrie, moral philosophy, “Moralized Ovid”.
For citation:

Staf I.K. Allegory, Poetrie, Rhetoric: On the Notion of Poetic Fiction in France at the End of the 15th Century. Studia Litterarum, 2017, vol. 2, no 4, pp. 10–29. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2017-2-4-10-29

Author: Irina K. Staf
Information about the author:

Irina K. Staf, PhD in Philology, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: September 03, 2017
Published: December 25, 2017
Issue: 2017 Vol. 2, №4
Department: Literary Theory
Pages: 10-29
DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2017-2-4-10-29
UDK: 821.133.1
BBK: 83.3(4Фра)4

Abstract

The allegorical dimension of the text in the early French Renaissance culture became, under the influence of Boccaccio’s Genealogy of the Pagan Gods, the main argument in the defense of poetic fiction (fabula). However, the transfer of Boccaccio’s ideas to France was followed by significant reconsideration of his work’s fundamental principles. Whereas in Genealogy, the truth (hidden under the veil of the “fables”) is a series of virtual mythological interpretations that represent a solid macrocosm, French followers of the Italian humanist, from the Augustinian Jacques Legrand, author of the treatise Eloquent Sofia-Wisdom (ca. 1400) to the anonymous author of The Poetic Stories of Olympus (1539), develop a different understanding. Bearing on the tradition of both medieval mythography and the medieval versions of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, they form extensive lists of ancient Gods and characters, interpreting the ancient myth as figurative instruction in the true faith. Interpretation becomes primary to the myth thus moving the myth into the realm of “moral philosophy” and turning it into an exemplum, an instructive example. Such exegesis functionally equates poetic “fables” of the Ancient Greeks and Romans with Biblical plots: from both, a “moral philosopher” or preacher can draw the material he needs. This is how Jacques Legrand understands the essence and the tasks of the science of fiction (poetrie). “Poetrie,” a catalogue of moralized fictional images and plots, separated into loci communes and classified according to the categories of moral philosophy, becomes part of the rhetoric as it penetrates into some treatises on the “second rhetoric,” related to the verse in the national language. By the beginning of the 16 th century, the doctrine of the fabula became wholly subordinated by the principle of “decorated speech” and added to a set of rhetorical figures for the usage of the speaker. Poetic fiction acquired a new status: retaining its allegorical-moralizing nature, it ceased to require explicit interpretation. Educated reader became entitled to interpret it without mediation of the mentor or commentator.

References

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