Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Reviews of Books

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2015), 92, (6), 719–736.


Reviews of Books • CANTAVELLA, El ‘Facet’, Una ‘Ars amandi’ medieval. Edició i estudi. Biblioteca Sanchis Guarner. València–Barcelona: Institut Interuniversitari de Filologia Valenciana – Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat. 2013. 342 pp. ISBN 978-84-9883-651-6. With her edition and study of the Catalan Facet, Rosanna Cantavella culminates many years of research in this singular medieval text, a translation of the Latin Facetus ‘Moribus et vita’ that inserts numerous original additions, notably as samples of seduction speeches. Partially drawing from her previous work, Cantavella opens her introduction with a detailed survey of the genre-crossroads where Facet stands: urbanity treatises, artes amandi, and treatises on sexual practices. This detailed context, instrumental in understanding both the Latin source and the innovations by the much later Catalan translator, is followed by a description of the only extant manuscript of the Catalan Facet, a description of the linguistic and stylistic traits of the Catalan text, an analysis of its relationship with the Latin source and a lengthy commentary on the structure and literary motifs found in Facet. The edition takes the central section of the volume, accompanied by notes specifying the sources of certain lines (especially with regard to its relationship with the Latin original) and offering partial translation or lexical notes for difficult passages. The volume is complemented by three appendices containing two versions of the Latin Facetus ‘Moribus et vita’ found in Catalan manuscripts, a table of correlation between the Latin text and the Catalan translation, two fifteenth-century love letters with quotations from Facet, a glossary, and a thematic index. The thoroughness of some of these sections allows for detailed appraisals and interesting insights into a wide range of relevant topics; on the other hand, discussion of some essential aspects is excessively BHS 92.6 (2015) doi:10.3828/bhs.2015.43 dispersed, as the frequent cross-references attest. The clearest example is the discussion of Facet as a translation, which is mainly in Chapter 5 but spreads into other sections, mainly the commentary, often overlapping with the notes, and is then completed by the materials in the appendices. As well as a valuable source for analysis of the cultural and historical matters highlighted by Cantavella, Facet is a key element in unravelling the nature and evolution of medieval Catalan (or, rather, Occitan– Catalan) noves rimades. From this point of view she gives two very interesting clues. Firstly, she describes the only manuscript witness of Facet, which is one of the major Catalan anthologies of noves rimades, now held in two separate fragments at the Bibliothèque municipale of Carpentras and the Bibliothèque national in Paris, and proposes a reconstruction of the original compilation. It is a line of enquiry that should undoubtedly be developed so that it may enhance the analysis of Facet within this manuscript context, and refine previous research that could not take the original order of the pieces into account. Secondly, Cantavella looks for signs of reception and linguistic clues to propose a composition date during the first half of the fourteenth century, much earlier than most rough chronological estimates for the whole noves rimades corpus. These are two major elements to advance the understanding of the noves rimades, and would benefit from being combined with the results by Hedzer Uulders, ‘“Letres qui van per tal afar”: un nouveau salut Occitano–Catalan et la fortune du genre en catalogne (II)’, Estudis romànics, 32 (2010), pp. 215–48, from where it can clearly be surmised that Facet is a core text in interpreting the cultural horizon that accounts for the compilation criteria of this codex. As Lola Badia remarks in the preface to Cantavella’s edition, Facet is tightly woven

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