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The Romance of the Rose was a medieval `bestseller': over 200 manuscripts of it have come down to us (compared to, for example, about 80 of The Canterbury Tales). The first part (c. 4000 lines) was composed by Guillaume de Lorris in c.1225, and there is an ongoing debate as to whether this was completed or left unfinished.

About forty years later, Jean de Meun wrote a much longer continuation of the poem taking a far more scholastic approach and using the text as a site for academic and philosophical debate. One way, then, of reading the de Meun section is as an `anti-Guillaume' poem, critiquing the very concept of `courtly love'.

Horgan's translation is into free and flexible modern prose, making this poem eminently readable and accessible. The introduction, however, and notes are both fairly brief and confine themselves to scene-setting, and source notes.

This is worth reading on its own merits, but is also important as a cultural resource for later medieval romance such as Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, and Elizabethan chivalric romance such as Spenser's The Faerie Queene. It's also an important context for court revels and pageants throughout the sixteenth century: the Siege of Love motif, especially, is one which is played out at various tournaments and masques at the courts of both Henry VIII and Elizabeth.
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on 25 May 1999
This story, translated from the medieval French is a marvellous read for all the allegory fans out there. It concerns the trials and tribulations of the Lover trying to reach his goal, the rose who he loves. It is interesting to compare this with the Mechant's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, which heavily draws from this French example of Allegory.
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on 21 May 2016
This may be a romance in the French sense of a work of fiction but there is little in it that we would describe as romantic. The story is an allegory on one young man's quest for sexual fulfilment, perhaps gratification is nearer to the mark. Guillaume de Lorris sets the scene in the first 4000 lines, the story being taken up some 40 years later by Jean de Meun whose style is completely different. The latter author peppers his text with references to classical Greek and Latin writers assuming no doubt that his readers are familiar with them. The current edition translated by Frances Horgan includes an excellent introduction and explanatory notes. Jean de Meun uses his contribution as a platform to air his polemic towards the mendicant orders of his day and his views on the natural world, neither of which have much bearing on the story. Although not great literature it does throw some light on 13th century thinking for those with the patience to follow his long winded digressions.
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on 22 October 2011
This is a good translation of the original text. However there are some minor parts missing, and if you're studying this book, I would recommend buying the medieval French text too, just to have something to compare the translation with.
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on 18 March 2011
Interesting to finally get hold of a readable version of this early medieval classic. Although long winded and highly stylised, as many such texts are, there is enough here to hold the attention and reward sustained reading - even if a few bouts of rapid page turning are called for at times.
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on 15 October 2009
A comprehensive coverage, written in modern English with a clarification of the text in the introduction. Easily understandable and informative.
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on 19 June 2011
I read about this poem when doing Chaucer for my English Lit degree back in the 70s, then again recently as part of a U3A philosophy group and so decided to buy it. I'm enjoying the medieval insights into romance and courtship - most of which resonate today - plus ca change and all that.
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on 21 November 2014
Very good and useful editorial material.
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on 23 November 2015
Did not enjoy this, I bought it as it was on my required reading list. Best price on Amazon.
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on 24 March 2014
My dissertation has finally provided me with an opportunity to purchase my own copy of this book for my research. It arrived quickly and on time, although a wee bit pricey, definitely worth the money.
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