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[JEAN DE MEUN]. Jean de Meun or Jean Clopinel was born at Meung-sur-Loire, just outside Orleans. He says that he was born about the time of the death of Guillaume de Lorris, thought to be between 1225 and 1240, and that he worked on Le Roman de la Rose about forty years after Guillaume's death. His section of the poem was completed between 1276 and 1280. Jean also translated the Letters of Heloise and Abelard and used them in his section of the Roman, RR 8759-8832, in the Jealous Husband's arguments against marriage. He translated Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae into French as Li Livres de confort de philosophie, which Chaucer used for his translation into Middle English. He died about 1305.

Jean takes up Guillaume's poem at line 4059 in a radically different tone. Reason remonstrates with the Lover and explains the functions of Fortune, Friendship, and Wealth and, during her discourse, names the sexual organs, RR 6928-7184. This is one of the passages to which Christine de Pizan strenuously objects in her first letter to Jean de Montreuil (La Querelle de la Rose 48). Friend comforts the Lover; he describes how women have impoverished him; he longs for the Golden Age, which he describes; he advises the Lover on how to deceive Jealousy and the guards of the Castle where the Rose is imprisoned. He counsels the Lover that success in love depends on deceit and guile, and he discourses on the Jealous Husband. This episode includes quotations from Theophrastus's Liber aureolus de nuptiis (The Golden Book of Marriage), stories of Lucretia, Hercules and Dejanira, Samson and Delilah, quotations from Juvenal and from Walter Map's Dissuasio Valerii ad Rufinum philosophum ne uxorem ducat (Valerius's Dissuasion of Rufus Not to Marry, c. 1181-1183), RR 8245-9932. The God of Love and his barons arrive to help the Lover assault the Castle of Jealousy. The God of Love praises Guillaume's section of the poem and foretells Jean de Meun's birth and his continuation of the story, RR 10495-10678. The barons capture the Old Woman, Fair Welcome's guardian, give her a chaplet of flowers for him; she hurries to him and, when she has delivered the gift, discourses to him on love, RR 12541-14547, the bulk of which is antifeminist. This passage influenced Chaucer in his conception of the Wife of Bath; the section on table manners appears in Madame Eglentyne's portrait, Gen Prol 128-136. The section also includes stories about Dido, Phyllis, Paris and Oenone, Medea, Jason, Circe, lectures on the wiles of lovers, on cosmetics, influenced by Ovid's Ars amatoria. Love's barons again attack the Castle but fail to take it. He sends an embassy to Venus, but she is out hunting; as soon as she receives the message, however, she comes to the rescue, RR 15627-15890. Dame Nature, hearing the oath, laments the state of things and confesses to her priest, Genius, RR 15891-19434. Genius leaves Dame Nature at her forge and flies away to the God of Love. Vested by Love in a silk chasuble, Genius mounts a platform and preaches on the text, "Wax and multiply," giving examples from stories about Cadmus, the Fates (Atropos, Clotho, Lachesis), Jupiter's castration of Saturn, and he recaps the poem from the beginning, RR 19439-20703. Comforted by the sermon, Love's barons again assault the Castle. Venus arrives and, throwing one of her firebrands at the Castle, turns the battle in Love's favor as the Castle goes up in flames, RR 21228-21258. The inhabitants flee from the burning tower, and the Lover gains the Rose. The poem ends with a very explicit sexual embrace, RR 21259-21780.

Jean de Meun's section of the poem was the subject of a quarrel between Christine de Pizan, Jean Gerson, Jean de Montreuil, and the Brothers Col (Pierre and Gontier). The series of letters they exchanged, dated 1400-1402, form the basis for La Querelle de la Rose (The Rose's Quarrel).

The description of Madame Eglentyne's table manners, Gen Prol 127-136, is influenced by RR 13408-13432. Much of Dame Alys's Prologue is indebted to the passage on the Jealous Husband and the Old Woman, as follows: WBP 1-3 correspond to RR 13006-13010; WBP 207-210 to RR 13269-13272; WBP 357-361 to RR 14393-14394; WBP 393 recalls RR 13838-13840; WBP 467-468 recall RR 13452-13463; WBP 469-479 recall RR 12924-12948; WBP 516-524 recall RR 13697-13708; WBP 534-542 correspond to RR 16347-16364; WBP 555-558 to RR 13522-13528; WBP 618 to RR 13336; WBP 624-626 to RR 8516-8600; WBP 662 recalls RR 9980. The Loathly Lady's speech to her new husband on poverty and gentillesse, WBT 1109-1123, 1133-1164, contains many ideas from RR 18607-18634, 18677-18695. [Alisoun3: Eglentyne: Guillaume de Lorris]

V.L. Dedeck-Héry, "Boethius' De Consolatione by Jean de Meun." MS 14 (1952): 165-275; ibid., "Jean de Meun et Chaucer, traducteurs de la Consolatione de Boece." PMLA 52 (1937): 967-991; D.S. Fansler, Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose; J. Fleming, The Roman de la Rose: A Study in Allegory and Iconography; Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Le Roman de la Rose, ed. F. Lecoy; ibid., Le Roman de la Rose, ed. E. Langlois; ibid., The Romance of the Rose, trans. C. Dahlberg; E. Hicks, Le Débat sur le Roman de la Rose; Jean de Meun, Traduction de la première épître de Pierre Abelard, éditée par C. Charnier (Paris: 1934); La Querelle de la Rose: Letters and Documents, ed. and trans. J.L. Baird and J.R. Kane; R. Sutherland, ed., The Romaunt of the Rose and Le Roman de la Rose: A Parallel-Text Edition; C.C. Willard, Christine de Pizan: Her Life and Works.
Copyright © 1988, 1996 Jacqueline de Weever
Published by Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London.

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