the courtly chivalrous school in European literature during the 12th through 14th centuries, centered in Provence, northern France, and Germany and later in England, Spain, and Italy.
The themes of courtly literature are the ideals of class honor and valor but not in the name of family or country as in the heroic epos, rather for personal glory and moral perfection. The courtly lyrics of the troubadors, French trouvères, and German minnesingers enriched poetry with new themes, genre forms, verse measures, and rhyme. The chivalrous novel and narrative poem (lay) treated classical and Byzantine subjects, the Arthurian legends, and the love story of Tristan and Yseult. In contrast to the collective and anonymous epic, the author’s persona stands out in chivalrous lyrics and novels, accompanied by a glorification of individual virtues, greater depth of psychological description, subtler appreciation of nature, concentration on the reader’s interest, adventurism, and individualistic manner.
Courtly literature brought such major writers into prominence as the Provençal troubadors Jaufré Rudel, Bernard de Ventadour, Bertran de Born; the French trouvères Conon de Béthune, Bérulle, Thomas, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, and P. de Beaumanoir; and the German minnesingers Walther von der Vogelweide, Hartmann von Aue, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Courtly literature exerted an influence on the heroic epic and on secular and religious literature.
In the Middle East, courtly literature became widespread but had a different character, closer to the epic and to urban literature (as in the “romantic epics” of Nizami Giandzhevi and Gurgani). A unique example of the courtly novel in the Far East is Genji Monogatari.
REFERENCESShishmarev, V. Lirika i liriki pozdnego srednevekov’ia. Paris, 1911.
Aubry, P. Trubadury i truvery. Moscow, 1932. (Translated from French.)
Daix, P. Sem’ vekov romana. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from French.)