The Book of Fortune and Prudence

Translated with an introduction and notes by
ISBN 9789027240125 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
ISBN 9789027271051 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
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These new translations of Bernat Metge’s Libre de Fortuna e Prudència (1381) into Spanish (verse) and English (prose) make this key early work by 14th-century Catalonia’s most challenging writer available to the wider audience it has longed deserved. As with Metge’s masterwork, Lo somni (The Dream), recently translated by Cortijo Ocaña and Elisabeth Lagresa (Benjamins, 2013), the writing of The Book of Fortune and Prudence seems to have been precipitated by a larger crisis in Catalan society, in this case, an all-too-familiar-sounding banking crisis. Drawing on sources ranging from Boethius, to the Roman de la Rose to Arthurian fable, Metge unveils the workings of the world through his two allegorical women, Fortune (good and bad) and Prudence, in a search for consolation in the midst of inexplicable reversals of fortune--those of others, and perhaps his own. But as in the Somni, Metge refuses here to offer pat solutions to the crises of his day, offering what is perhaps one of our earliest glimpses of the impact of new ideas coming from Italy in the Iberian Peninsula. The work is written in the popular noves rimades form (octosyllabic rhymed couplets) in the challenging mix of Occitan and Catalan common to verse writing in 14th century Catalonia. Cortijo’s and Martines’s tri-lingual edition, together with its fine introduction and notes, is an extremely valuable contribution as it makes this unduly neglected text of the later Iberian Middle Ages available for students and other readers in a broadly accessible, yet scholarly, form. ( Prof. John Dagenais, UCLA)
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“En 1381, año que vio el inicio de una profunda crisis en la economía europea, que acabó con muchos bancos, Bernat Metge escribe esta obra en la que dialoga con la arbitraria Fortuna y la comedida Prudencia, que aconseja el estudio, frente a la ignorancia, a la vez que recomienda desconfiar de los bienes que puede proporcionar la Fortuna.
Ese sería uno de los aspectos, el más directamente relacionado con las preocupaciones cotidianas, pero hay otros rasgos que Antonio Cortijo Ocaña y Vicent Martines nos aclaran en una sólida introducción sobre el autor y sus obras, en la que analizan el Libre de Fortuna e Prudència. Luego, publican el texto en catalán con la traducción al inglés y al castellano, y abundantes notas explicativas. Es la ocasión de que los lectores poco familiarizados con la lengua medieval del escritor barcelonés, se acerquen a un texto que, en cierto modo, es un juego y una queja: así suelen ser las sátiras y las burlas. Pero en este caso, Bernat Metge ha encontrado unos traductores capaces de transmitirnos los matices que mueven al escritor en medio de un mundo convulso, dividido entre quienes siguen las veleidades de la Fortuna, y los pocos que intentan acogerse a la sabiduría de la Prudencia.”
“Cortijo & Martines provide us with a tour-de-force that makes available in English and Spanish one of the classical texts of medieval Catalan literature.”
“This is a groundbreaking study that presents for the first time a trilingual edition of Metge's Book of Fortune and Prudence. Cortijo & Martines accomplish the difficult task with panache and offer the reader accurate translations as well as a well-thought introduction.”
“Bernat Metge's Book of Fortune and Prudence is one of his most accomplished works. This translation captures the flavour of the original verse and explains the difficulties of the text with an insightful Introduction and highly pertinent notes.”
“This new trilingual (Catalan, English, Spanish) edition and translation of Bernat Metge’s Llibre de Fortuna e Prudencia (1381) is a very important book and a remarkable scholarly accomplishment. The edition is deeply learned and theoretically engaging and the original text is rendered splendidly both in English and Spanish. Through their carefully researched edition and excellent translations the editors, Cortijo-Ocaña and Vicent Martines, have meticulously and persuasively situated Bernat Metge and his allegorical text in his historical and cultural moment, both in its local and its European context, bringing the Catalan text to the attention of scholars in the English and Spanish speaking world. This book is timely and extremely useful, a must read for everyone interested in the development of humanism in the Iberian Peninsula.”
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Cited by 1 other publications

Miguel-Prendes, Sol
2016. Medieval Iberian Studies: Borders, Bridges, Fences. In American/Medieval,  pp. 47 ff. DOI logo

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DSBB: Literary studies: classical, early & medieval

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ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2013029751 | Marc record