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available evidence, we can hear in her song the po- etic voice of a real woman raising issues that are of concern to her and to her society. There is no rea- son to deny to her the right to speak. Huchet has argued that the Comtessa de Dia we think we know is just a creation of manuscript at- tributions and the poems attributed to her and to other trobairitz constitute a kind of disem- bodied “voix critique” (critical voice) invented by men to define male discourse. That the woman re- main silent is, for him, a necessary condition of

U&X;

Jean-Cha&

the troubadour

canso. r6

But many troubadour

vi&x

poets are the creation of manuscript attributions and If one accepts manuscript attribution to males in those cases where there is no other firm evidence of the poet’s identity, and Huchet continues to call troubadours by their names, then why deny the validity of such attribution to fe- males solely because they are female? And if we consider the social and political roles of real w o m e n , w e c a n e a s i l y r e a c h t h e c o n c l u s i o n t h a t the necessary condition of the troubadour is

canso

that

powerful

women

do

speak.

Nor

need

we

57

imagine that women have no “subject position” from which to sing. They may occupy the same subject position in the poetry that they occupy in the oaths of fidelity. The song is of a whole with

the society

from which it

tion of the

feminine voice

springs. This interpreta- allows us to give richer

meaning

to

the

critical

aspects

of

the

discourse

elaborated in women’s songs. The voice we hear in the

Marcabru

poem is, so

far as we can judge, invented by a man. It does not speak to us directly. Nonetheless, our evidence

permits us to imagine

real

women as “models,”

pmtorellz

just as we think of a real man as a “model” for the knight. It also permits us to argue that strong fe- male figures need not be restricted to literature; literary portrayals acquire greater depth when we know that in Occitan “reality” strong female fig- ures were not unusual. Our evidence permits us to hear in the a powerful female voice as- suming her right to be what she is and to resist treachery and images of corruption foisted upon

56.

57.

H&et, femmes Subjectivi~ 102,

“Les

Kay,

troubadours,” 76, and Paterson, The

70. World

261.

her. In this interpretation, the critical voice, though invented by a man, takes on a substance

( d a r e o n e s a y , a b o d y ) a n d a c o r r o s i v e e d g e t h a other interpretations would deny to it. t

5 §§

Our main purpose here has been to restore to

Oc-

titan

women, in song as in life,

the

right to speak

without concluding that the world of troubadour song would collapse because they opened their mouths. Although couched in different terms, the

issues raised by comtessa and

vilana

are in many

ways the same: knights should practice what they preach; women have the power to claim their rights, including the right to resist exploitation or to express their love openly through their songs.

Despite its status as literary game, troubadour song is concerned with “real” struggles, conflicts, and emotions. Many conflicts involve women, and the status of women in southern France makes it plausible that women should have articulated some of them. The conflicts are not peculiar to the period of flowering of troubadour song. The Old Woman in the thirteenth-century Romance of the Rose, firming that all men betray and deceive women, traces her vengeful attitude to her own betrayal by a lover to whom she had had the folly to devote self exclusively The Old Woman is not a very savory

af-

her-

character. But later, Christine de critics do recognize her as a real woman rebukes knightly hypocrisy in the

(Cupid’s Letter) and in some of her

au

most

d;tmozlr

Pizan-and writer- Dim balk&s. Epitre

Christine’s critique is both literary and social; it situates itself at a juncture of the life she perceived around her and its artistic representation- like the

critique of her earlier sisters in

Provence. Ifwe

cease

thinking of the

dompna

(the lady) as a metaphor

for something else, if we reintegrate song into a social setting where the language of power rela- tions and the language of love are fused into a dis- course used on equal footing by both women and men, then we may grant to women their own voices and allow them to make music.

45

.

-

FRFDRrcLc~& h4ARGAETswIlTEN

Women in Troubadour Song

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