The Romance of the Rose

Introduction

Le Roman de la Rose (English: The Romance of the Rose) is a medieval French poem styled as an allegorical dream vision. It is a notable instance of courtly literature. The work's stated purpose is to both entertain and to teach others about the art of romantic love. Throughout the poem, Rose is used both as the name of the titular lady and as a symbol of female sexuality. The other characters' names also function both as regular names and as abstractions illustrating the various factors that are involved in a love affair.

The poem was written in two stages. The first 4,058 lines, written by Guillaume de Lorris circa 1230, describe the attempts of a courtier to woo his beloved. This part of the story is set in a walled garden (a locus amoenus), a traditional literary topos in epic and chivalric literature. Around 1275, Jean de Meun composed an additional 17,724 lines. In this enormous coda, allegorical personages (Reason, Genius, and so on) hold forth on love.


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