Mark D Johnston

title.none: Llull, Doctrina Pueril (Mark D Johnston)

identifier.other: baj9928.0504.012 05.04.12

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Mark D Johnston , DePaul University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Llull, Ramon. Cases, Anna Baggiani, and Anna Maria Saludes i Amat, trans. Doctrina Pueril. Series: Academia Paedagogica, vol. 1. Rome: Giardini Editori e Stampatori, 2003. Pp. 136. (pb). ISBN: 88-427-1423-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.04.12

Llull, Ramon. Cases, Anna Baggiani, and Anna Maria Saludes i Amat, trans. Doctrina Pueril. Series: Academia Paedagogica, vol. 1. Rome: Giardini Editori e Stampatori, 2003. Pp. 136. (pb). ISBN: 88-427-1423-2.

Reviewed by:

Mark D Johnston
DePaul University

The multifaceted career of the Mallorcan lay philosopher and theologian Ramon Llull (1232-1316) has always attracted interest from a wide range of scholars, thanks especially to the encyclopedic scope of his Great Universal Art of knowledge, which he conceived as a system for teaching all unbelievers the truth of Christian doctrine. The hundreds of writings in which Llull elaborated his Great Universal Art cover almost every field of medieval Western learning. Several of his works give particular attention to the training and schooling of children, and so have made Llull a popular subject for historians of education. The most extensive of these works is his treatise Doctrina pueril (Instruction for Children), written in Catalan around 1282 and presented now in a modern Italian translation by Anna Baggiani Cases and Anna Maria Saludes i Amat. Their version appears as a volume in the series Academia Paedagogica, a collection of classics from the history of education, directed by Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais.

A brief Prezentazione (11-12) by Flores d'Arcais describes the encyclopedic character of Llull's work, its Franciscan spirit, and its narrative construction as a manual of advice from a father to his son. Flores d'Arcais also announces this volume as the first translation of Llull's Doctrina pueril in Italian, "anzi in una lingua europea--con la sola eccezione della traduzione in lingua spagnola del 1700." (11) This claim is patently untrue--French and Occitan versions also appeared in the later Middle Ages, and are available in incunabula or modern editions, one of which Flores d'Arcais cites in a footnote on the same page. This peculiar inconsistency immediately alerts the specialist reader that this volume is not a work produced by or for medievalists

An introductory essay "L'attualit di un pensatore medievale" (13-21) by Gabriel Janer Manila (a novelist and professor of education at the University of the Balearics, Palma de Mallorca) surveys Llull's life and work. Janer Manila provides a well-balanced and well-focused appreciation of Llull's career, in order very broadly to "situare il progetto pedagogico di Ramon Llull nella prospettiva storico-geografica del suo tempo." (19) Since we know little about Llull's youth, Janer Manila supplements his account of that period by summarizing the description of an idealized childhood offered in Llull's spiritual romance, the Llibre d'Evast e Blanquerna. This description is another of the Lullian texts most often discussed by historians of education, although Janer Manila cites none of these.

Llull's educational manual is a traditional inventory of divine and human knowledge: it combines a lengthy review of Catholic doctrine (chaps. 1-72) with summary descriptions of the Liberal and Mechanical Arts, natural science, and moral philosophy (chaps. 73-100). For all this material, Baggiani Cases and Saludes i Amat provide a clear and literal translation, rendering everything in Italian without any references to Llull's original Catalan vocabulary. Despite this focus on presenting strictly the content of Llull's text, the translation includes only a couple of footnotes to assist the reader in understanding Llull's often idiosyncratic ideas. The general appreciation of Llull's ideas and goals, provided in the introduction by Janer Manila, will be little help to a reader unfamiliar with the details of Scholastic theology and philosophy that Llull mentions.

Finally, a short bibliography (135-6) lists other Italian translations of Llull's works and major editions of his Catalan writings, but omits the editions of his far more numerous Latin works. The list of secondary literature includes only studies written in other Romance languages (Castilian, Catalan, French, and Italian), ignoring completely the huge body of important scholarly work in English and German. Moreover, the literature cited consists chiefly of very general biographical studies, rather than critical or historical investigations of Llull's work. While this selection may well reflect the editors' effort to address a non-specialist audience, it raises very basic questions about the utility of this modern Italian translation. Llull's medieval Catalan prose is not especially difficult: any Italian reader capable of understanding secondary literature published in Castilian, modern Catalan, or French could probably understand Llull's original text without much trouble. Italian students lacking this linguistic facility or simply unfamiliar with medieval intellectual history might find this translation useful as a means of quick access to Llull's text, but would surely want to investigate it further through consultation of more sophisticated secondary literature.

For any scholar in medieval studies, this translation is a salutary and cautionary reminder that the subjects of our highly specialized research often hold real interest for other academic (and non-academic) audiences. We should consider it our professional obligation to provide those audiences with well-prepared, useful, accurate, and intelligible accounts of those subjects. Neglect of this responsibility simply encourages the appearance of inferior treatments, like this translation of Llull's Doctrina pueril, which will help Italian non-specialist readers in the history of education scarcely more than it advances understanding of Llull's work.