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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Kathryn Banks

Banks, Kathryn (2010). Difference, Cognition, and Causality: Maurice Scève’s Délie and Charles de Bovelles’s Ars Oppositorum. French Studies 64(2): 139-149.

Author(s) from Durham


This article juxtaposes two very different texts, Charles de Bovelles's Ars oppositorum (1511) and Maurice Scève's Délie (1544), examples of Latin prose philosophy and vernacular love lyric respectively. It is not a study of sources: it considers the literary text, like the Latin prose, as an instrument for thinking with. Furthermore, I suggest that contrasting conceptual possibilities arise from generic differences, so that the study of two divergent genres illuminates a variety of related conceptions of difference. I trace a shared interest in the respective roles of cognition and causality in establishing differences, but also a divergence concerning the value of difference, in particular for the human subject. Thus, in the Délie, I focus upon images of illuminating, looking, perceiving, and disintegrating. Both texts suggest that cognition is crucial to the establishment of differences, so that it even seems to usurp the function of natural causality. However, in the Délie the je suffers from difference — both difference within the self and difference from the divine — whereas in the Ars difference can be thought of as a violation but more often is perceived in Trinitarian terms, so that the human subject achieves a privileged sort of self-difference resembling that of the divine.