"Altmann is making a major contribution by providing this much-needed text of Christine's significant but inadequately known debate poems, together with essential philological, codicological, and historical background, annotations, together with a landmark literary-critical preface."Nadia Margolis, editor, The Christine de Pizan Society Newsletter
This new edition of Christine de Pizan's love debate poems supercedes the only other modern edition (1886) by working from all existing fifteenth century versions and by using as a base manuscript the version now generally acknowledged as the definitive copy. The poems, Livre du Debat de deux amans, the Livre des Trois jugemens, and the Livre du Dit de Poissy are spirited discussions, of approximately 2000 lines, concerning the finer points of late-medieval love doctrine and protocol. Written early in the fifteenth century, they are significant both because of their contribution to the tradition of debates and dits by such authors as Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Alain Chartier, and because their author is arguably the most important female writer in the west before Austen.
Alongside the texts, Altmann provides the first extended study of these debates in their own right, offering a literary historical background to the form, analyzing Christine's use of the traditional form and content of the love debate, and providing sections on the codicology and philology of the poems. She also provides an introduction, summary, and textual notes for each of the poems as well as a glossary for nonspecialist readers.
Barbara K. Altmann is associate professor of French at the University of Oregon and author of articles on French medieval verse in French Studies and elsewhere.