Economic development, the key to love in literature

What is the relationship between heavy plow and courtly love? In medieval literature, the prosperity brought about by the use of the first favored the flowering of the second, according to studies linking economic development with the themes of culture and timeless love.

The Swiss philosopher Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985) clarified the importance of the theme of love in medieval European culture. And French historian Georges Duby (1919-1996) pointed out that this phenomenon was in line with the major movements of urbanization and agricultural activity in the mid-Medieval period of the 11th and 13th centuries.

“In the 12th century, we aimed to survive and moved from a population that had declined to almost 1000 years to a population that tripled in 300 years. After that, people’s psychology changed. It wasn’t possible before. That’s what makes it possible for couples to invest in you, which is shown in the literature, “explained to AFP Professor Nicholas Baumar, a cognitive anthropologist at the Higher Normal School and the lead author of the study. increase.

Tristan und Isolde (12th century) in England or Roman de la Rose (13th century) in France, spoken by Troubadour, emphasizes how to love passionately. This sublimates the value of loyalty, emotional attachment, and partner idealization.

However, this phenomenon was not limited to a well-defined period and region, but was related to ancient Greece, the Chinese dynasty, the Arab and Persian worlds, and even Japan.

-Impossible love-

It covers 3,500 years of literary history from ancient Egypt to the beginning of modern times in 1800.

This work is based on a series of academic studies, subject expert workshops, a database of 3,000 Wikipedia notes on literary novels, and a dataset that measures economic development by criteria such as urbanization rates.

“We have a correlation. We know that romantic love is important and at the same time economic levels are rising,” says Nicholas Baumard. But “this doesn’t tell if the first is the second cause.”

For example, Greek and Roman fiction works are more romantic at the beginning of our time, a period of prosperity with the decline of the Roman Empire, up to about 500 years of our time.

The theme is universal: forbidden or impossible love, love at first sight, suicide from despair, eternal union. The same story “changes with the spirit of the people,” the researchers say.

But when the theme of love imposes itself, what is the cause? The author rejects the “National Culture” dissertation, taking Greece as an example. Greece alternates between non-romantic and romantic periods over the 20th century.

-Invest in a couple-

As evidenced by the fate of Tristan and Isolde, the dissertation on cultural communication does not hold. According to his “chain of communication”, he loses the content of his love in Russia in the 15th century and supports moral values. Much poorer.

Economic development, the key to love in literature

For Baumar’s team, the real cause is the prosperity of society. Like what was brought about when heavy plows were introduced in Europe after 1000, it would support the cultivation of clayey soils and would be fertile and at the same time difficult to break. Its use is most beneficial to the northern regions of Europe, and the sharp rise in urbanization is closely linked to the growing love for literature.

Researchers summarize that this prosperity, which meets top priorities such as adequate diet and a safe life, “changes people’s psychology.” “You can do things that weren’t possible before, such as investing in your couple, and that’s what the literature shows.”

Freed from the constraints of survival, couples can invest in their offspring. The love theme acts as an “emotional tool”, helping to connect couples and integrate this investment.

Therefore, monogamous and permanent coalition sanctification will be an adaptive response to changes in the environment. For example, the church injunction would have been just a reflection of what people were thinking, not the cause.

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