Modern histories of medieval culture often assert without qualification that the oral exercise of public eloquence during the European Middle Ages was limited to preaching by the clergy. The classical art of rhetoric supposedly survived only as a written subject for study in the schools. During the past thirty years, however, knowledge of medieval rhetorical theory and practice has grown tremendously. Historians and philologians have devoted particular attention to the relationship between oral and written communication in medieval Europe. Their investigations are beginning to suggest -- not surprisingly -- that interest in eloquence was not confined to the schools or clergy. Secular officials arguing in princely courts or town halls, and laypeople seeking to develop their learning or piety also cultivated an interest in rhetoric.
Given the paucity of testimony available, the New Rhetoric of the Mallorcan lay theologian and philosopher Ramon Llull (1232-1316) offers an exceptional witness to the non-academic and non-clerical concern for eloquence. His proposals for new Christian arts of communication are among the best evidence available for assessing the diffusion of rhetorical doctrines from the cloisters and schools into the courts, town halls, and private chapels of Western Europe around 1300.
Growing interest in Llull's work and in medieval rhetoric have combined to produce this first published edition. The first part on order shows how Llull's entire program attempts to correlate ethical, metaphysical, and linguistic categories into a single system of Anselmian "rightness." The next section on beauty could almost form a complete art of preaching in itself, thanks to the brief compilations of sermon material that it includes. The broad range of discursive elements and techniques in which Llull seeks verbal beauty makes this section very eclectic in scope. Part three on knowledge attempts to explain the diffusion of right linguistic and rhetorical doctrine almost exclusively through the Divine Dignities and other categories of the Great Art. The final section on love consists of ten proverbs regarding loving speech, each explicated with an appropriate exemplum.
Contents: Part I:Introduction. Popular Eloquence in Medieval Europe. The Career of Ramon Llull. The Great Art of Ramon Llull. Rhetoric and the Arts of Communication in Llull's Great Art. The New Rhetoric: Circumstances of Composition. Purpose and Plan of the New Rhetoric. Sources of the New Rhetoric. Medieval and Renaissance Interest in Llull's New Rhetoric. Part II:Bibliography. Medieval Rhetoric. General Studies on Popular Learning and Piety in Llull's Era. Studies on Ramon Llull and His Work. Part III:Rethorica Nova/New Rhetoric. Prologue. Part One: On Order. Part Two: On Beauty. Part Three: On Knowledge. Part Four: On Love.