The principal concern of this book (expounded in the first chapter) is to chart the development of literary awareness amongst poets of the later Middle Ages whose marked stance of professional independence led them increasingly to distinguish between their implied literary selves and the first-person speakers of their texts. Four chapters examine, by means of close stylistic analysis, the implications of such detachment taken as a model of binary opposition for the elaboration of the first-person speaker. Thus, in the case of Machaut, the essential distinction is between the first person and the second or third - the 'I' and the Other; with Froissart, between the 'I' of the present and the 'I' of the past; with Deschamps, between the internal 'I' of the poet and a vast array of external personae; with Christine de Pizan between the blueprint of a persona evolved by the poet for her internal 'I' and the transformations implied by its imposition on external personae. The final chapter, on the poetics of debate, explores the means by which the 'I' may be divided in order to arrive at an objective knowledge of both its own nature and of external truths, the ideal expression of which is the written record of the debate itself. It is the primacy of the Book as an autonomous entity which, ultimately, exercises the most far- reaching influence on the development of the poetic 'I' in this period.
With a dedication from the author to a mother.