Shards of Love

Exile and the Origins of the Lyric

Shards of Love

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: December 1993

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies

With the Spanish conquest of Islamic Granada and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the year 1492 marks the exile from Europe of crucial strands of medieval culture. It also becomes a symbolic marker for the expulsion of a diversity in language and grammar that was disturbing to the Renaissance sensibility of purity and stability. In rewriting Columbus's narrative of his voyage of that year, Renaissance historians rewrote history, as was often their practice, to purge it of an offending vulgarity. The cultural fragments left behind following this exile form the core of Shards of Love, as María Rosa Menocal confronts the difficulty of writing their history.
It is in exile that Menocal locates the founding conditions for philology--as a discipline that loves origins--and for the genre of love songs that philology reveres. She crosses the boundaries, both temporal and geographical, of 1492 to recover the "original" medieval culture, with its Mediterranean mix of European, Arabic, and Hebrew poetics. The result is a form of literary history more lyrical than narrative and, Menocal persuasively demonstrates, more appropriate to the Middle Ages than to the revisionary legacy of the Renaissance. In discussions ranging from Eric Clapton's adaption of Nizami's Layla and Majnun, to the uncanny ties between Jim Morrison and Petrarch, Shards of Love deepens our sense of how the Middle Ages is tied to our own age as it expands the history and meaning of what we call Romance philology.


Shards of Love is a powerful and haunting book whose constant refrain is exile, and specifically the medieval lyric in exile.” — Diana de Armas Wilson , Speculum

"One of the multiple perspectives that Professor Menocal's book offers to the reader is to understand it as a genealogy of the discipline 'Romance Philosophy'. . . . Romance philology, for Menocal, is a late concretization of a century-long process of nostaglia: a nostalgia for a truly 'multicultural' world which constituted the 'Middle Ages' on the Iberian penisula and which was definitely destroyed, from 1492 on, by the Inquisition and the conquest of America as double departure towards European modernity. Menocal's genealogy of this nostalgia reveals an almost uncanny closeness between lyrical poetry and erudite discourses as the basis for academic medievalism." — Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University

"This is a brilliant book, exhibiting far-ranging comparativist expertise, from Medieval Arabic, Hebrew, and Provençal lyric poetry, Dante and Petrarch, through the scholarly paladins of Romance philology and the Parry-Lordian theory of oral composition, up to modern rock music and its lyrics. . . . A pathfinding book." — Samuel G. Armistead, University of California, Davis


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

María Rosa Menocal, R. Selden Rose Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University, is the author of The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History and Dante's Cult of Truth, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prelude ix

1. The Horse Latitudes 1

II. Scandal 55

1. Love and Mercy 57

2. The Inventions of Philology 91

3. Chasing the Wind 142

III. Desire 185

IV. Readings and Sources 189

Works Cited 271

Index 287
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1419-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1405-9
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