Towards a Genealogy of the Gay Science: From Toulouse and Barcelona to Nietzsche and Beyond

eHumanista/IVITRA 5:546-703 (2014)
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This monograph traces the history of the concept of Gay Science, made popular by Friedrich Nietzsche through his book The Gay Science. Contrary to Nietzsche’s mistaken notion of the concept, it did not refer to a Troubadour poetics, but rather to a post-Troubadour poetics of recuperation—the complete opposite of what Nietzsche had thought. This poetry was not sung to young maidens, but instead to the Virgin Mary. The poetics of the Gay Science is found in an eight hundred page compendium entitled Las leys d’amors, compiled in 1536 by Guilhem Molinier, and edited by Joseph Anglade in 1919. This post-Troubadour poetics gave rise to two schools of gaya sciensa, one in Toulouse (“Consistoire du Gai Savoir” in 1323) and the other in Barcelona (“Consistori de Barcelona” in 1338), where floral games took place. The aim here, then, is to trace the genealogy of the gay science through the cultural history of Toulouse, Barcelona, the Spanish poets of the 15th century, and its last “inheritor,” Nietzsche.
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