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This very first anthology of medieval love debate poemsâcomprising five masterpieces of the genreâexplores the many compelling mysteries raised by the experience of romantic love.Â Some have been translated into modern English for the first time. With wit, ingenuity, and humor, these poems suggest intriguing answers to what contemporary inquirers would call questions of gender and sexual politics: Who loves better, men or women? Are men or women more faithful in love? Are women obligated to reciprocate the attentions of an ardent male? What qualities in a lover do women most desire?
The contributors provide a foundation for the love debate genre and medieval literary treatments of love, as well as pertinent facts of literary history and biographical details about the poets, whose work spans more than 100 years. The volume features works that have been recognized for centuries as central texts of the medieval tradition: Christine de Pizanâs Debate of the Two Lovers, Alain Chartierâs Debate of the Four Ladies,Geoffrey Chaucerâs The Legend of Good Women, and Guillaume de Machautâs Judgment of the King of Bohemia and Judgment of the King of Navarre. Each translation is appropriately annotated for student use.