Séminaire EMMA Jeudi 23 octobre 2014, 18h15, salle 126
Leonard Cohen, the Modern Troubadour
The presentation will focus on motifs Leonard Cohen shares with the Medieval South European poetic traditions. It will trace Medieval Occitan poetry influenced by Andalusian Muslim poets and their vision of love in which the spiritual and sensual meet. The feminine worship it presumes, blossomed in the Medieval Occitania into the veneration of the idealised Lady. However, side by side to this, subversive tendencies existed among some of the poets who judged the ‘game of love’ to be illusory. This struggle may be seen in the work of Leonard Cohen too, who at once falls for the ideal but refuses its worship since it leads to excruciating pain.
Courtly love culminated in the 20th century among the singer-songwriters such as Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Jaques Brel in France, Fabrizio de André in Italy; Paco Ibáñez in Spain and many others with whom Cohen could be compared. The Medieval poets of these countries can be rightfully regarded as giving birth to the European tradition of love lyric that has developed, through the American love for kitsch and mawkish sentiment, to the modern worldwide phenomenon of rock music. Leonard Cohen, often listened only for the sedative qualities of his songs, will be portrayed in the context of the tradition he (un)consciously keeps alive.
Affiliation: A Ph.D. candidate of English and American Literatures
Jiří Měsíc is a doctoral student of English and American literatures under the tutelage of prof. Josef Jařab at Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic. In his dissertation thesis “The Exploration of the Feminine in the Work of Leonard Cohen,” he focuses on the manifestations of the feminine in Cohen’s lyrics and traces individual motifs to Classical antiquity and, especially, to Medieval and Renaissance poetry, which he regards as giving birth to the modern phenomenon of love song. In the past, he wrote his bachelor and master theses on the work of Leonard Cohen and has reviewed books analysing Cohen’s work. He also published an essay called “Songs of Initiation by Leonard Cohen” in Ostrava Journal of English Philology, in which he views singer’s work as influenced by Judaism, Christianity and Sufism. Beside this, he is a published poet, translator, seducer and a coffee lover.
A short summary in French :
L’objectif de mes recherches est de savoir si la similitude des motifs entre la poésie des troubadours et Leonard Cohen doit être considérée comme un phénomène naturel ou si le chanteur-compositeur-interprète contemporain suit les préceptes délibérément.
Jiří Měsíc est un thésard tchéque qui travaille sur la culture populaire anglo-américaine. Actuellement, il fait ses recherches à l’Université Paul-Valéry à Montpellier.