The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure?: The Literary Economy in Late Medieval France

By Deborah McGrady

© 2018

The Writer’s Gift or the Patron’s Pleasure? introduces a new approach to literary patronage through a reassessment of the medieval paragon of literary sponsorship, Charles V of France. Traditionally celebrated for his book commissions that promoted the vernacular, Charles V also deserves credit for having profoundly altered the literary economy when bypassing the traditional system of acquiring books through gifting to favor the commission. When upturning literary dynamics by soliciting works to satisfy his stated desires, the king triggered a multi-generational literary debate concerned with the effect a work’s status as a solicited or unsolicited text had in determining the value and purpose of the literary enterprise.

Treating first the king's commissioned writers and then canonical French late medieval authors, Deborah McGrady argues that continued discussion of these competing literary economies engendered the concept of the “writer’s gift,” which vernacular writers used to claim a distinctive role in society based on their triple gift of knowledge, wisdom, and literary talent.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 366 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005294

  • PUBLISHED FEB 2019

    From: $66.00

    Regular Price: $88.00

    ISBN 9781487503659
  • PUBLISHED JAN 2019

    From: $66.00

    Regular Price: $88.00

Quick Overview

The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure? argues that the French King Charles V’s unprecedented enthusiasm for the literary commission triggered a crucial, multi-generational debate within the book community about how a work’s status as solicited or unsolicited affected its value and purpose.

The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure?: The Literary Economy in Late Medieval France

By Deborah McGrady

© 2018

The Writer’s Gift or the Patron’s Pleasure? introduces a new approach to literary patronage through a reassessment of the medieval paragon of literary sponsorship, Charles V of France. Traditionally celebrated for his book commissions that promoted the vernacular, Charles V also deserves credit for having profoundly altered the literary economy when bypassing the traditional system of acquiring books through gifting to favor the commission. When upturning literary dynamics by soliciting works to satisfy his stated desires, the king triggered a multi-generational literary debate concerned with the effect a work’s status as a solicited or unsolicited text had in determining the value and purpose of the literary enterprise.

Treating first the king's commissioned writers and then canonical French late medieval authors, Deborah McGrady argues that continued discussion of these competing literary economies engendered the concept of the “writer’s gift,” which vernacular writers used to claim a distinctive role in society based on their triple gift of knowledge, wisdom, and literary talent.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 366 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Wemmers’ Victimology: A Canadian Perspective is essential reading for those interested in victims of crime in all their dynamism – theoretically, politically, and within the disciplines. However, Wemmers takes this further by providing a powerful analysis of structural and institutional reform, through the emerging human rights instruments that place victim rights firmly on the policy agenda. Bringing together a volume of this kind is no small feat, internationally significant, but with obvious relevance to those especially interested in Canada’s justice response."


    Elizabeth L’Estrange, University of Birmingham
    Renaissance Quarterly

    "Deborah McGrady’s analysis of patronage practices during the last quarter of the fourteenth century and the first quarter of the fifteenth, as evidenced not only by authorial dedications and presentation miniatures but also archival records, texts themselves, and manuscript witnesses, offers keen insight into the politically fraught institution hiding behind the nostalgic idea of medieval mecenat."


    S.C. Kaplan, Rice University
    French Studies

    "Deborah McGrady’s rich, meticulously researched, and lucidly written monograph addresses this surprising gap in modern studies of late medieval book communities. She shows that the decades surrounding Charles V’s translation project constitute a crucial moment of change in medieval patronage practices, characterized by a tension between spontaneous artistic expressions freely offered by the poet and transactional commissions undertaken for the pleasure of the patron."


    Julie Slinger, Washington University in St. Louis
    H-France Review

    "The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure? is a much-awaited book, in the sense that medieval French studies has been waiting for someone to grasp the nettle of patronage practices in a strongly conceptualised, integrated and comparative way, looking across successive Valois reigns, between different important authors of the period. The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure? is definitely worth this wait, and is hugely impressive for what it achieves conceptually and materially."


    Helen Swift, Medieval and Modern Languages, St Hilda’s College, Oxford

    "The Writer's Gift or the Patron's Pleasure? brings together a number of centres of interest. The most immediately obvious, of course, is patronage studies. But it also adds an important chapter to our knowledge of the life of Charles V. Although his status as a patron of literary translation has long been noted, this study brings our understanding of the king’s project to a new level."


    Tracy Adams, Department of French, University of Auckland
  • Author Information

    Deborah McGrady is an associate professor of French at the University of Virginia.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Rethinking Literary Patronage in a Medieval Context

    1. King Charles V’s Sapientia Project: From the Construction of the Louvre Library to the Books He Commissioned
    2. The Writer’s Work: Translating Charles V’s Literary Clientelism into Learned Terms
    3. Guillaume de Machaut’s Fictions of Engagement
    4. Eustache Deschamps on the Duties and Dues of Poetry
    5. The Pursuit of Sponsorship: From Christine de Pizan’s Troubled Dealings with Louis of OrlĂ©ans to Marketing Nostalgia
    6. The Curse of the Commission: Christine de Pizan on Sacrificing Charles V’s Biography

    Conclusion
    Bibliography

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