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what “feminine” voices we are hearing is a musi- cal as well as a poetic issue.1

The question itself is not new. It has, in fact, al- ready caused considerable debate. Why, then, raise it again? Much recent criticism has tended to limit the sphere of women’s activity in medieval litera- ture and life. For some, the lady in troubadour song is entirely circumscribed by the male poet’s language; she is an objectified female “Other” that occasions masculine discourse and satisfies male eroticism.

Within

the theory of “homosocial desire” and the

The

sociohistorical

context

We will take Simon Gaunt’s recent work as typi- cal of those critics who deny the possibility of a real female voice. “When de Ventadorn] does turn to his lady,” he asserts, “he can conceive of their relationship only as a simulacrum of a male one.” “The is produced in the text,” he later adds, “so that she can function as a reflec- tion of the poet’s worth for other men outside it. Real women are excluded.” Therefore, “a woman singing. . . disrupts the homosocial discourse of the

domna

[Bernart

concept of troubadour

camos

as a series of compe-

canso:

giving women a voice, even as fictional

titions between men, the female construct within the poetry becomes merely a means to an end.2 These interpretations assume that the song tions in a society where women are subordinate and without power or any political role of their own. Our purpose here is first, to show why this histor- ical assumption is false, and second, by analyzing our two songs in the light of historical evidence, ask yet again whether we should hear female voices

fimc-

constitutes a major sumption behind these statements

The as- , indeed behind

intrusion.“3

domnas,

Gaunt’s entire analysis of troubadour language, es- pecially what he calls (following Sarah Kay) its “feudal and other socially loaded metaphors,“4 is that such metaphors can only refer to relations among men. Real women are excluded from this poetry because they are excluded from the world of power relationships whose language the

trouba-

in each of these songs, and if so, of what kind.

dours--and the

trobairitzdmployed.

“Homage

I. The melody of the

is in MS R

de Dia is found only in the northern French MS W

22543,

The melody of the song by the

fr 844,240

with one stanza of the text in

Comtessa

Marcabru pa.‘toAz

(Bibliotheque Nationale I? (Bibliotheque Nationale

gr”).

r--v’),

Frenchfied Old Occitan. There is space after the melody, presumably for stanzas that were never added. Since the text is corrupt, some adjustments have been made to adapt the melody to the Occitan words of the song. For a discussion of the problems, see

Vincent

Pollina,

“Troubadours

dam le nerd,” Romanhi~be ZeitschniftFir Literaturgescbichte

9 (1985): 263-78. Melodies and texts

for both songs are taken from The Medieval

LF’c:

Anthologies and

Crcsetter

for

Tear&g,

A Project Supported

t$

the National

En-

the Humanities

ed. Margaret Switten and

I,

and 94 (South

Mass., 1988). Both songs are recorded on cassette

Translations of Occitan and Latin texts are by Switten and

The concept of homosocial desire was developed by Eve Kosofsky

Between Men: English Literature and Male

Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). Applied to the troubadours, homosocial desire means that the songs do not portray love of a woman; they represent men singing about themselves, displaying poetic (and musical) skill before a male au- dience in a kind of song competition to demonstrate their worth; expression of one poet’s desire is to be compared with that of another; women are used not as love objects but only to mediate social relationships between men.

hwmentfir Hadley, 2. social

Cheyette. Homo-

51

Sedgwick,

I.

andMount Holyke C&ge,

Howell Chickering, Anthology

For examples of recent criticism, see E. Jane Burns, “The Man Behind the Lady in Troubadour Lyric,”

Sarah Kay,

in Troubadour

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Simon Gaunt,

Genre in Medieval French Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

For a discussion of the concept of

(1985): and

647. For

254-70;

Subject+

Poetry

(Manchester: Manchester

cia

trouvere Reuben

Cholakian, The Tmubadour

1995).

Psycbocritial&vding

University

desire applied to psychoanalytic readings, see

performance, see Christopher Page, “Listening to the

C

.

Lyric: A

1990); Romance Notes25 Gem&r homoso- Trouveres,” Early Music 25 (1997):

Doris

1990), The FemaLe tiice

H&et, “Les femmes MedievalRomance L+ (New

ou voix Lang, 1988)

Litthature 51 Bakhtin’s

~9-90. Earnshaw, Marcabru’s pastorelz

troubadours York: Peter

(1983): terms to

Press,

or Jean-Charles in

la

critique,” 158, argues, applying

that “‘contamination’ from the general qualities of male speech..

.has

passed into the female speech voice.”

Not

Matilda

trobairia 1995); des Gesamtkorpus, Beibefte zur Castehoza, Trobaititz,

recent criticism has so radically reduced the role of women. See in particular the new editions of the

corpus:

Bruckner, Laurie Der

and Sarah White, Frau in der

The

the

altokzitanixben b$xben Lyrik,

Zeitxbrz~fir romanisrhe Pbi&hgiie (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 199r),

Tomaryn

all Tomaryn

Shepard,

Angelica Rieger, Trobairitz:

Beitrag der

Songs of

Women Troubadours (New York: Garland

,

233; and Matilda

Edition Bruckner, “Na

and Troubadour Lyric,” Romance Notes

z.5

(1984-85):

23~3,

and “Fictions of the Female Voice: The Women Troubadours,” Specu-

4. Ibid.,

lum 67 3. Gaunt,

865-91. and Genre,

(1992): Gender 124.

142,1++,161.

27

I/,

FREDRlCLCHEYETTE& hfARGARET!SWITTEN

Women in Troubadour Song

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