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Jeu parti [Fr.; Provençal joc partit,partimen”]. A debate or dialogue in the form of a poem. According to Guilhem Molinier, the author of Las leys d'amors, a 13th-century treatise on how to write poetry in the style of the troubadours, there is a clear difference between a partimen and a tenso: in a partimen the first speaker presents a problem with two possible solutions, leaving his opponent the choice of which solution to defend while taking it upon himself to defend the opposite side; thus, the participants each defend a theory not out of conviction but for the sake of discussion. The theorist admitted that the two terms were often used the wrong way.

Not only did the troubadours and trouvères not use the two terms as described, they also did not distinguish between the two genres. It is thus better to examine jeux-partis as they are grouped together in those troubadour and trouvère sources that present the poems by genre. A jeu-parti is a debate or discussion, usually between two authors who contribute alternate strophes. In some poems the debate is as described in Las leys d'amors. In others the discussion is in a question and answer form, or the first speaker presents his own opinion, immediately challenging his opponent to take a different point of view.

Jeux-partis deal with a variety of topics, but that of love, especially courtly love, occurs frequently. In most debates the opponents are addressed by name, many being well-known troubadours or trouvères; in other instances the poet introduces two apparently imaginary debaters, or initiates a debate between himself and an imaginary opponent. Each opponent usually contributes three stanzas and an envoi in which he appeals to someone to be his judge; in some poems the two participants appeal to the same person, but more often than not each participant chooses his own judge.

Some 200 Old French jeux-partis survive, about half of them with music. Their musical style is indistinguishable from that of trouvère songs in general; and since all of them are strophic, the music does not reflect the form of the debate.

Bibliography

  • Alfred Jeanroy, Les origines de la poésie lyrique en France au Moyen-Age (Paris, 1899, 3/1925)
  • A. Långfors, A. Jeanroy and L. Brandin, eds.: Recueil général des jeux-partis français (Paris, 1926)
  • Alfred Jeanroy: La poésie lyrique des troubadours (Toulouse and Paris, 1934/R), ii, 247–81
  • J. H. Maillard and J. Chailley: Anthologie de chants de trouvères (Paris, 1967)
  • M. F. Stewart: 'The Melodic Structure of Thirteenth-Century "Jeux-partis,"' AcM, li (1979), 86–107
  • S. N. Rosenberg: 'Jeu-parti,’ Medieval France: an Encyclopedia (New York, 1995), 495
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