Love in the Old French verse romance afflicts its victims with painful physical symptoms. Viewed through the optic of “courtly” love or fin’amors, a discourse taken to be idealizing, lovesickness in the romance has long been understood to represent a quasi-religious experience.2 Yet love is treated as a serious problem in a series of contemporary genres including theological treatises, decretals, canon law and commentaries, medical treatises, penitentials, saints’ lives, chronicles, and sermons. Surely the existence of this ubiquitous discussion suggests that lovesick romance heroes and heroines should be viewed as the prey of an unruly and arbitrary impulse, and that love in the romance, a phenomenon described as painful and disorienting, should be viewed as a problem rather than an idealized emotion.
KeywordsSexual Desire Feudal Society Painful Physical Symptom Medieval Literature Courtly Love
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