Translated, with introduction and notes, by Santa Casciani and Christopher Kleinhenz
This is the first English translation of Il Fiore, the late-thirteenth-century narrative poem in 232 sonnets based on the Old French Roman de la Rose, and the Detto d’Amore, a free-wheeling version of many Ovidian precepts of love in 240 rhymed couplets. The elaborate allegory of the Fiore presents the complex workings of love, understood primarily as carnal passion, in the human psyche through the use of personifications of a wide array of characters who engage in various social (and bellic) interactions. There are personifications of social stereotypes and attitudes, mythological figures, abstract qualities, psychological and physical states, and personality traits.
The Detto d’Amore includes features of the perennial controversy between proponents of the pleasures of erotic passion and those who counsel pursuit of the sublime joys found solely in the exercise of reason. The incomplete poem also contains a conventionalized—and idealized—description of the physical traits of the lady, as well as a portrait of the perfect courtly lover.
“[A] welcome contribution to the area of Dante Studies and to the study of Old French literature and its medieval reception. [T]he English translation will be a great boon in making these two interesting poems available to specialists in Old French literature—and to all those with an interest in the Roman de la Rose . . . . The translation . . . is idiomatic and very readable, while nonetheless, adhering closely to the lineation of the Italian text. It is thus completely accessible to those with no knowledge of Italian, while readers wishing to use the translation as an aid to reading the original text will have no trouble in doing so.” — Reading Medieval Studies
“The importance of [this work] lies in part in [the] possible attribution to the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, but even if he is not the author, the Fiore is a valuable witness to the literary taste and cultural concerns of medieval Italy and to matters of poetic influence and reception among different literary traditions.” — Translation Review
“Casciani and Kleinhenz perform a valuable service to the field of general medieval studies with this well-constructed volume. It could be used as a textbook in the classroom, yet the translation can also serve as a research guide. It gives scholars the pertinent information to compare the Fiore with the French original; it delineates the recent scholarship on the texts; and it provides a useful and thorough bibliography. This work should open up these two Italian poems to students and researchers in the English-speaking world.” — Speculum