The Remede de Fortune as Anthology - Abstract

The Remede de Fortune as Anthology
Presenter: Benjamin Albritton, Stanford University

In the literate context of the Remede de Fortune, there are many references to the craft of memory as a mode of transmission. In one telling example, Lady Fortune’s ballade, “En amer a douce vie,” is memorized by the fictional narrator as a means of storing a treasured piece. This method of transmission – directly from performance to memory – circumvents the control of the author which we associate with Guillaume de Machaut and his presumed careful oversight of the presentation and dissemination of his works.

A fourteenth-century composer commanded an impressive range of lyrical and musical forms – from the monophonic lai and virelai, to the polyphonic balade and motet. Embedded within the Remede de Fortune is a catalog of the major forms in Machaut’s compositional arsenal. These lyric insertions, so tightly woven into the fabric of the Remede, nonetheless had a surprisingly wide circulation beyond their narrative setting. Several of the lyrics not only appear outside of the Remede, but outside of the carefully organized complete works manuscripts with no attribution to their author or reference to the work in which we normally find them.

This paper will investigate the circulation of the Remede lyrics in musical and textual anthologies, paying particular attention to the tension between the authorial and compositional context most familiar to modern readers, and the anonymous context of the reportorial anthology.