Saturday, 25 June 2011

Emily-Kate Price on the Scuola Siciliana

Translation of a tradition? Re-appraising the link between the troubadours and the Scuola Siciliana

Emily-Kate Price (Magdalen College)

Despite being a MSt student, Emily Price dared to be the last speaker of I3MS this course year and delighted us with a very interesting talk about the relation of the Scuola Siciliana to the poetry of the trobadours, which has been the topic of her dissertation. The Scuola Siciliana shows certain differences to trobadour lyric with regard to its poetic purpose and the atmosphere from which it emerges: the Sicilian court was highly intellectual and form was regarded higher that content by its poets.

The Scuola Siciliana is the first manifestation of Italian poetry (1st half of the XIIth century) and shows a great influence of the poetry of the Trobadours. This influence can be explained not only by formal and thematic reasons, but is related to the circumstance that Italian was not a literary language at the time, so that it had to rely in authoritative models such as the troubadours to start forming their own literature. That is the reson why, despite depending so much on the models of the trobadours, some aspects are slightly changed in order to create a, Italian poetical identity different to the Occitan. Some of these were, for example, the phenomenology of love, the relation between love and death or the attitude towards authoritative sources. The new Italian current looked for factual poetry, instead of the personal introspective tendence of the trobadours. Moreover, they opted for clarification and univocity, in contrast to the ambiguity of trobadours.

This tendance reflects very well in translations of Occitan poems by poets of the Scuola Siciliana, which are not only translations but adaptations to and defenses of these new poetical principles. To prove this, Emily chose to analyse the translation that Giacomo da Lentini (1230s?) did of a poem by Folquet de Marselh, a late Occitan poet whose compositions start reflecting the crisis of trobadour poetry and the tensions between fin amor and poetical horizons, and quite close to the birth of the Scuola Siciliana. Apart from the above mentioned differences, Emily highlighted the similarities too and found a lot of what she called "compensations", that is, the repetition of words or ideas found in the Occitan poem which are not necessary in the translated version but which are introduced, in first place, to show the dependence from the original text; in second place, to dignify the composition through this dependence. In this sense, the function of trobadour poetry was to provide an already dignified literary form to the poets of the Scuola Siciliana, which they did not hesitate to manipulate and adapt to their personal taste.

The Q&A turn was full of remarks about similar proccesses in Spanish and Italian literature over the Middle Ages and theory of translation and of reception. At the end, we took farewell until the next term with some sparkling juice, but decided that some end-of-term drinks should be taking place some time in week 9. Therefore, keep visiting the blog for more information or suscribe to our newsletter!

Many thanks to all for coming and see you next Michaelmas term!
 
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