Sarah Kay. 2013. Parrots and Nightingales: Troubadour Quotation and the Development of European Poetry. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Levitsky, Anne Adele

The troubadour lyric corpus has fascinated other authors and scholars since it flourished in the twelfth century. Quotations and citations of the lyric appear in a variety of medieval genres, preserved today in sources from a number of different geographical locations. Sarah Kay’s detailed book examines the processes of quotation and citation of the Occitan lyric that appear in numerous medieval texts (in Italian, French, Catalan, Latin, and a few Occitan sources), and the effects inclusion of the lyric in these texts had on an understanding of both the newer works and the older lyric.
Kay separates the sources she analyzes into two large methods, or “ways.” Direct quotations of Occitan lyric, labeled the “parrots’ way,” are differentiated from cited instances, labeled the “nightingales’ way” (which emphasize re–creation of the lyric Occitan texts rather than repeating them word–for–word). The majority of the book is concerned with the parrots’ way, which elevates and promotes the Occitan language via direct quotation.


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January 27, 2017