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Troubadours mineurs gascons du XIIe siècle, édition critique bilingue avec introduction, notes et glossaire par Ricardo Viel

Bill Burgwinkle
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Troubadours mineurs gascons du XIIe siècle, édition critique bilingue avec introduction, notes et glossaire par Ricardo Viel, Paris, Champion (« CFMA » 167), 2011, 246p.

ISBN 978-2-7453-2197-8

Texte intégral

1A new edition of twelfth-century troubadours is always an occasion, especially when produced by the capable hands of Riccardo Viel. As Viel himself notes, these particular poets – Alegret, Marcoat, Amanieu de Broqueira, Peire de Valeria, Gausbert Amiel – have all been edited before and the first question that first arises is why a new edition is required. Dejeanne edited Alegret and Marcoat in the first years of the twentieth century and Jeanroy’s edition of 1923 of the Gascon troubadours included Bernart-Arnaud d’Armagnac, Giraut de Calanson, and Arnaut de Comminges, in addition to Viel’s poets. Viel first treats the question of what unites this group, whether these are all indeed Gascon poets ; and in doing so throws some doubt on the provenance of Peire de Valeria and Gausbert Amiel. All are all linked by some association with the tradition of Marcabru and most show some evidence of knowledge of the works of Bernart de Ventadorn, Peire d’Alvernhe, and, in some cases, Raimbaut d’Aurenga ; but does this make for a school or even a group best read through their supposed regional interests, linguistic features, intertexual references and common topoi ?

2A thorough review of historical material leads Viel to a few conclusions not highlighted by the previous editors : Alegret was an important influence and link between the generation of Marcabru and the trobar clus poets who followed ; Marcoat is the earliest example of biting personal invective and satire in the romance vernaculars, a form which will became more popular in the following centuries ; Peire de Valeria’s vida may well be wrong in associating his works with foillas, flors and cans d’ausels, more properly characteristic of the works of Arnaut de Tintinhac. The criteria for the various decisions taken in regard to representing the text as based on the manuscripts are clear and uncontroversial. Attributions are dealt with in relation to Alegret and Peire de Valeria : Alegret, in particular, is given credit for a number of unattributed songs that match his acerbic style and Viel examines carefully all of the arguments forwarded by some of the most eminent occitanists before pronouncing his verdict. The information on the manuscript tradition is at the same time exhaustive and concise, clear and brief, offering the essentials on those manuscripts which contain any of these nine songs and then some information not available elsewhere : e.g. on ms. w, a manuscript not discussed by Avalle in his I manoscritti (Einaudi 1993). The study of the language used in the various witnesses is impressive, especially in relation to what is known of the dialects used on either side of the Pyrenees. Discussion of the metrical issues is particularly important in that Viel is able to draw important conclusions from the supposed distinctions between trobar leu and clus that prove essential to his interpretations of the poets’ works, especially in the case of Alegret and his intertextual relations with Giraut de Borneil and Marcabru. This whole section on metrical issues could as easily have been a valuable article on how meter can push the boundaries of genre, convey meaning through connotation rather than linguistic openness, and suggest a much more fluid understanding of poets’ generic limitations. The texts themselves are meticulously edited, with copious notes on other published versions, manuscript variations, and adequate praise for Dejeanne’s earlier hypotheses and justifications. Viel is, in fact, a very generous editor, appreciative of others’ attempts to read what was not there to see and to correct what there was. One example of this will suffice : in Alegret’s song, [Ai]ssi cum selh (BdT 17,1), Dejeanne had read l. 13 as : ‘que lieys que.m defen sas beutaz / vos tornessetz e major cortesia’. Viel argues that there was no need to make this minor intervention in the text provided by the manuscript. He holds to the manuscript’s version ‘qu’a lieys…’, arguing that in Gascon, a direct object is often introduced by ‘a’ ; in so doing, and basing his judgment on linguistic criteria, he stays closest to the ms reading, credits his predecessor, and arrives at a clear and logical reading that, to this reader, makes better sense. This little example illustrates the general tenor of his editing philosophy : stay close to the manuscript, intervene only when necessary, respect the work of your predecessors (though he has some criticism for Jeanroy on occasion), and present a text that is readable and can be justified. The resulting anthology is beautifully crafted, a teacher and scholar’s dream. The nine songs are allotted a total of 128 pages, each complete with translation, commentary, discussion of the stemma and archetype, other versions from other manuscripts, and comments on ‘horizontal transmission’. This is followed by a bibliography and index to proper names, and, importantly, a glossary, making the edition excellent for teaching all aspects of the troubadour tradition. Reader friendly, astutely edited and affordable editions are what we need in the field and Viel has provided us with a very welcome addition.

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Référence électronique

Bill Burgwinkle, « Troubadours mineurs gascons du XIIe siècle, édition critique bilingue avec introduction, notes et glossaire par Ricardo Viel », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes [En ligne], 2011, mis en ligne le 12 octobre 2012, consulté le 24 juin 2018. URL :

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