“Avoir la puce en l’oreille”: Voices of Desire in Alain Chartier’s Debat Reveille Matin and Guillaume Alexis’ Le Debat de l’omme mondain et du religieulx
Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes/Journal of Medieval and Humanistic Studies
Honore Champion, Paris
© Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes
The proverb which introduces this article recurs frequently in fifteenth-century French poetry. Pointing both to disquiet and to sexual desire, it stands as a metaphor for the debate vehicle where it is most often found. The male protagonists of Alain Chartier’s Debat Reveille Matin (c.1423), and the Debat de l’omme mondain et du religieulx, attributed to Guillaume Alexis (c.1450), both draw on this same source of proverbial wisdom to express their frustrated desire. Desire for intercourse – both physical and verbal – drives the participants of our debates. This leads us to ask how desire may be linked with voice, presence and absence in the text. I demonstrate how « puce » may be understood to inhabit a gender neutral space, criss-crossed by the memory of presence. Through the « oreille » of the text, we overhear the voice(s) of desire at the heart of the debate.
Vol. 222, pp. 43 - 57
Place of publication