The Myths of Love

Classical Lovers in Medieval Literature

By (author) Katherine Heinrichs

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 August 1990

Length of book:

278 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028262

This study seeks to define the medieval literary conventions governing allusions to certain Ovidian and Virgilian tales of love in the works of Boccaccio, Machaut, Froissart, and Chaucer. Using evidence from the Latin mythographers, it addresses several much-debated critical issues in medieval scholarship: questions of narrative voice, thematic unity, and purpose. Its principal contribution is to the discussion and evaluation of the French and Italian poems of love to which Chaucer was most heavily indebted. The author suggests that the love poems of Boccaccio, Machaut, and Froissart, rather than being ponderous didactic productions designed to instruct medieval audiences in the art of love, are true progeny of the Roman de la Rose,complex jeux d'esprit much closer in spirit and intention to the works of Chaucer than has been supposed.

“Katherine Heinrichs proves her case so effectively and at such length (in the process rehabilitating a number of works whose modern critical reputations have suffered from unwarranted charges of incoherence and insignificance) that all serious scholarship on these poems in the future will have to take her book as their point of departure. This is a book that not only makes Chaucer’s earlier poetry more accessible but also enhances our appreciation of the subtlety and artistry of such underrated poets as Machaut and Froissart.”

—Robert Adams, Sam Houston State University