IN COURTLY CONTRADICTIONS, Sarah Kay demonstrates the central place of contradiction (or the quality of ‘contradictoriness’) in the emergence of courtly poetics in the twelfth century. Elucidating the trend in lyric, romance, and hagiography ‘toward explicit negation and its implicit counterpart, an ironic undermining of the text’ (Courtly Contradictions: 70) she argues that ‘contradiction is increasingly shifted from the subject to the object, both within the text and to the text itself as an object’ (Courtly Contradictions: 38). In what follows I apply this observation to the role of contradiction as a rhetorical framework in the poetic and musical structures of works by the thirteenth-century troubadour Guiraut Riquier. My first example is Riquier's pastorela cycle, in which the passage of time and playful dialogue produce a series of asserted contradictions. Then, I turn to one of his cansos, ‘Pus sabers no.m ual ni sen’ (Since knowledge is of no avail to me, nor wisdom; PC 248.66), in which the combination of text and music enacts a form of contradiction through opposition, realised in the reversal of the two halves of the melody during a sung performance. In both cases, contradiction occurs through the negation of a stated premise, requiring a linear sequence of utterances. Poetry and music both manifest the quality of contradictoriness through the dimension of time.
The notion of time is of central importance to the corpus of Riquier, which is literally inscribed within a metatextual framework of fictive temporality. In troubadour Chansonniers R (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 22543) and C (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 856), his works are presented within an assigned chronology; each song is preceded by a rubric stating the year, often the month, and sometimes even the day of its purported composition. Although the historical figures and events mentioned in several of the poems anchor them in an external reality, the dates situate the ensemble of texts in a fiction made (as in the Latin fingere, ‘to make’ and by extension ‘to imagine, to represent’) for them by Riquier. Each rubric begins with an indication of the genre and the number of each song within the group representing that genre within Riquier's corpus.