Samantha Pious

Medievalists and madmen

A review of Paul Blackburn’s ‘Proensa’

Image by Archie Rand, from a piece which appears on the cover of ‘Proensa: An Anthology of Troubadour Poetry.’ This image is part of Rand’s ‘Montale Motets’ series.

The surviving poetry of the Old Provençal troubadours ranges from magnificent epics and beautiful lyrics to wickedly scatological satire. Their homeland, in the region that became southern France, is the source of the word Proensa, the title of Paul Blackburn’s anthology of troubadour lyrics in translation. Thanks to a re-edition of Blackburn’s translations by New York Review Books, we twenty-first-century readers have a new opportunity to read truly dazzling English versions of the troubadours.[1]

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