The Book of The Love-Smitten Heart
By Rene D'Anjou
Edited by Kathryn Karczenska
Translated by Stephanie Gibbs, Stephanie Gibbs
Routledge – 2001 – 358 pages
Available only in Middle French and German translation until now, this volume constitutes the first full-length , French-English bilingual edition of Rene of Anjou's Livre du cuers d'amours espris, including all sixteen of the celebrated color plates, a critical introduction, notes on the translation, and a comprehensive bibliography.<br> The book tells the tale of desire and adventure as Heart -- part of Rene torn from his body by Love -- travels a complex allegorical landscape in quest of the lady Mercy, who is being held prisoner by a band of miscreants led by Refusal and Shame. Rene begs the reader to help him determine which of three entities is responsible for his torment: Fortune led him to the lady whom he loves; once he arrived, Love, in the guise of his lady's gaze, struck his heart; and Destiny insists that he reflect upon her alone. In addition to being a compelling courtly page-turner, The Book of the Love-Smitten Heart represents the rare instance in which a medieval love story is told simultaneously in three frameworks: autobiographical letter, dream vision, and quest romance. This structure makes clear the multiple logics within which the author's psychology is reflected in the story, and illustrates how the symbol of the heart, as it travels through these shifting frameworks, dramatizes vital relations linking self, desire, and writing.