By Alexandre Leupin
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Extra info for Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality
What concerns us here, however, is to determine the status of historical reference in the Poetria, not the specific problem of manuscript dating. The insertion of history into a doctrinal treatise, or of poetics into historical discourse, might seem curious to a modern mind accustomed to separating genres—but here we have only one more example of the typological jumbling that medieval writers practiced freely, with no compunction. Even speaking of discursive jumbling is questionable because generic distinctions scarcely existed; further, the medieval writer was always quick to seize upon the gamut of possibilities offered by all established fields of knowledge.
Though written consid47 BARBAROLEXIS erably later, his remarks resonate beautifully with the very old and lively tradition of etymological reverie practiced b y Isidore of Seville: "Alexis comes f r o m -a, which means very much, and f r o m lexis, signifying sermon; f r o m there w e have Alexis, he w h o is very strong on G o d ' s w o r d . " 1 2 T h e postclassical grammarians once again furnish f o o d for thought here. , says: "Figures of lexis \lexeos\ are w o r d figures, and those of dianoesis [dianoeas] are figures of thought .
But this genealogical ambiguity is not deduced from bilingualism alone. Even the graphic forms or, still better, the calligraphic forms of the L manuscript indicate that the problematics of beginning have been reflexively incorporated by the poem. In fact, the poem is preceded by a prose prologue written in the same hand as the major verse portion of the text. The alternating red and black lines of the prologue have a plausible moralizing thrust, since red is the color of Christ and black the color of Satan.
Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality by Alexandre Leupin