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By Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

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However, she also holds that the troubadours ultimately repudiate the Augustinian notion of a nonhierarchical, open-ended rhetorical method and subordinate the theme of erotic unfulfillment to structures of rhetorical mastery: “As poet, the troubadour, be he Guilhem IX or Raimbaut d’Aurenga, is in control—of language, of medium, of audience. He can and does create ex nihilo and so controls the truth of his poem. ”46 The troubadours thus offer a decisive modification of Augustinian hermeneutics, paving the way for Dante’s Divina Commedia, in which there are clear distinctions between author and work, orator and audience, and in which rhetorical structure is used to subordinate desire to hierarchy.

Allegory and Ideology Turning to the literary traditions of the High Middle Ages, I would argue that the probing self-consciousness and self-reflexivity of medieval allegory could similarly be construed as strategies for dissimulating, and at the same time advancing, underlying ideological agendas. If allegory appears to be about the inexhaustible difference between representation and truth, I would argue that it also plays on the uncertainty of its own meaning in order to authorize a particular kind of reader to distinguish between proper and improper, orthodox and heterodox, interpretations.

11 This ambivalence can be traced at least as far back as the Patristics and is laden with ideological meaning. According to a patristic theology of the word, cognition and faith are necessarily mediated through verbal signs. Words are the privileged vehicle for revelation and one of the means of bridging the gap between a lapsed humanity and an angry, punishing God. And yet whatever else they signify, words inevitably are also a marker of man’s fallen state, in that they provide only partial knowledge of the divine mystery and can never be purely referential or representational.

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