Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Traditional literary history has judged Alain Chartier’s poetry to be less important than his prose works. This evaluation is based on the fact that many of the poems are conventional, courtly creations, whereas the prose works deal with substantial moral and political issues. Modern scholars, however, have adopted a new perspective on Chartier’s poetry, seeing in it a symbolic extension of the content found in the prose works. This new approach reveals a continuity and balance in Chartier’s works.

Chartier wrote in both Latin and French. His major prose works in French are Le Quadrilogue invectif (1489; The Invective Quadrilogue, late fifteenth century), written in 1422, and Le Traité de l’espérance: Ou, Consolation des trois vertus (1489; The Treatise on Hope: Or, The Comfort of the Three Virtues; late fifteenth century) written about 1428. The Invective Quadrilogue, composed after the Battle of Agincourt, is a patriotic allegory in which France exhorts the orders of society—chivalry, the clergy, and the common people—to seek peace together. Chartier takes a firm stand in this work, which many critics consider his most important, for national unity, for the poor, and for the Dauphin Charles. The author’s longest work and among his last, The Treatise on Hope, was inspired by Boethius. Allegorical and historical figures paint a vivid tableau of a country distressed by continual conflict...

(The entire section is 425 words.)