by Jiří Měsíc

The Czech Republic 2020

Title Leonard Cohen, the Modern Troubadour
Author Jiří Měsíc
Country & Year Czech Republic 2020
Publisher Palacký University Press, The Czech Republic
Pages 228 pages, in English
Notes ISBN 978-80-244-5784-0 (paperback)
978-80-244-5787-1 (electronic version)
Summary This monograph arose from thinking about the literary tradition as described by the Anglo-American modernist writers Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot. In their view, the tradition of European love-lyrics crystallized in the work of the medieval Occitan troubadours, who represented the cultural and political milieu of the Occitanie of that period and whose work reflected the religious influences of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The main subject of their poetry was the worship of a divinized feminine character resembling the Virgin Mary, the Gnostic Sophia, or the ancient Mother Goddess. Their literary preoccupations further flourished in Tuscany, as well as among the German Minnesängers, and at the court of the Sicilian King Frederick II (1194–1250), from where they infiltrated into English literature during the Renaissance. In this period, Classical literature, in combination with troubadour poetry, became the cornerstone of English artistic production. However, it is not so well known that troubadour poetry took as its model the medieval poetry written in Andalusian Arabic. This enigmatic essence is what makes this literature so relevant as it is the first instance of the synthesizing of religions, mythologies, philosophies, literatures, symbols, and motifs coming from cultures other than our own. Nowadays, it is not surprising that contemporary artists draw on the troubadour poets and that they are even contrasted with them by critics. Such is the case of Leonard Cohen, who, during his career, revealed erudition in medieval poetry and religion and whose work shows many parallels with the work of his Occitan and Andalusian predecessors. For this reason, the book presents a comparison of the texts and motifs present in their works and refers to another important facet of their œuvre: religion and mysticism. The purpose is to highlight the importance of troubadour poetry in the rise of popular culture in the second half of the 20th century.

Foreword by Alberto Manzano.

Thanks to Jiří Měsíc for the information