Story Ten

November 10, 2020

The expansive story of Florida and Amador plays out over more than ten—perhaps closer to twenty—years and is set in Spanish and French kingdoms, contested borderlands, and even the Ottoman Empire, as Amador spends two years as prisoner of the King of Tunis, who hopes to “make a good Turk out of him” (138). It traces the development of Florida from an innocent young girl to an experienced woman who sees Amador’s attempts to seduce her for what they are, as she tells him, “I am a married woman, and I am not so ignorant that I do not clearly realize that it was violent passion that drove you to do what you did” (144).

Like the princess in the fourth story, Florida ultimately keeps quiet after she successfully defends herself against Amador’s attempted rape of her, as Parlamente tells us “It was enough for her that she had been delivered from the hands of her enemy, and as far as she was concerned Amador had been quite sufficiently punished by being thwarted in his attempt” (149). In the end, Amador perishes by his own hand in a battle between Christians and Moors and is mourned, ambiguously, “as his virtue and prowess deserved” (152).

This striking tale may well be the source of Madame de Lafayette’s Princesse de Clèves, as Leanna Bridge Rezvani and others have shown.

Our male (Hircan, Saffredent, and Geburon) and female (Parlamente, Oisille, and Longarine) storytellers respond quite differently to it…

2 thoughts on “Story Ten

  • I’ve been wondering if tale 10 was inspired by medieval fol’amor: the episode when Amadour goes to Barcelona and finds Aventurade and Florinde there reminds me of Chrétien de Troyes’ Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart. In this simile, Florinde would be Guenièvre whereas Amadour would echo Lancelot. There is this famous scene in Chrétien de Troyes’ work where Guenièvre looks down through a window at Lancelot fighting for her with Méléagant. This window embodies the tension between passion and “l’amour de loin” (love from afar, which is often caused by its sinful dimension). In the episode of tale 10, the window has the same function. Florinde indeed hides behind the window of a building which seems to be a tower, since she goes down “obscure stairs”, in order to observe Amadour without his knowing of her secret attraction for him. There is actually an occurence of the expression “folle amour” when Amadour confesses his passion towards Florinde.
    This illustration of courteous love would explain the ambiguous nature of Amadour character who, after all, dies like a martyr – tale 10 would not only be a tale about avoiding the everlasting attempt of Amadour towards Florinde, but an illustration of the “fol’amor” taking its inspiration in medieval courteous love.

  • Your rapprochement with Lancelot is insightful, and I agree with your characterization of Amadour as ambiguous, as he reflects many features of Castiglione’s courtier. Florinde is ambiguous herself despite her heroic efforts to combat her eventual passion for Amadour. It is one thing for treaties on love to call courtly love noble and virtuous, but stories show how hard it is to keep it above dire emotional and therefore physical impacts (I am thinking of Nora Peterson’s book Involuntary Confessions of the Flesh in Early Modern France). Marguerite chooses to tell stories because they illustrate better than any treaty the real upheavals attraction never fails to have on the characters’ psyche in an irreversible way.
    I am also intrigued by the role of the mothers in this novella and Novella 9 as mediators of all sorts between the “Amys”. How do they contribute to making the game of parfaite amitié better or worse? That endeavor is deeply rooted in a recreated social/cultural context that is both contemporary and historical.

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