“Panser d’or en avant a vous meismez seulement”: le récit du moi comme ressort de l’expression en langue vulgaire chez Jean Gerson

Philosophical Readings 10 (3) (2018)
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Abstract

This article examines a group of interconnected texts written in bilingual version by Jean Gerson between 1405 and 1408, as an example of the impact that the exercise of introspection had on late- medieval doctrinal expression. Although writing both in Latin and in the vernacular is not unusual during the Middle French period, Gerson is one of the rare authors of this period to render a bilingual version of one and the same work. The letter he addressed to Philippe de Mézières shortly before the latter’s death along with a collection of treatises on ars moriendi offer a privileged framework to examine the way bilingualism operates and the reasons leading to it. That the use of the vernacular responds to pastoral preoccupations regarding the laity is well attested in the Middle Ages; less obvious within a context of clerical elitism is the hypothesis according to which the vernacular responds to a penitential approach freed from all logic of subordination. In this perspective, the choice of the vernacular would be dictated by a discipline of introspection seeking moral perfection.

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