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Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun

rose lines roman poem

ROMAN DE LA ROSE . The immensely popular thirteenth-century French romance the Roman de la Rose is a lengthy allegorical poem of over 20,000 lines which tells the story of a lover searching for his heart’s desire: the rose. The lover’s quest and adventures, phrased in the form of a dream-vision, are described in a series of symbolic venues (e.g., the Garden of Delight) and encounters with personified concepts, both positive (e.g., Fair Welcome, Youth, Happiness) and negative (e.g., Slander, Shame, Jealousy). While the general concept of the allegory and certain themes and characters derive from earlier authors (especially Ovid), the work is a brilliant example of a medieval, courtly romance.

The work was composed by two writers; Guillaume de Lorris began the work probably but left it unfinished after 4,058 lines. The well-known Parisian poet Jean de Meun (who never met Guillaume de Lorris) so appreciated the work that he finished the poem with 17,000 additional lines. Over 300 manuscripts survive of this successful and influential work; many copies produced for wealthy patrons are lavishly illuminated with over 100 illustrations detailing episodes in the complex narrative.

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