Bernat Metge (Barcelona, 1340/1346-1413) was a writer and court functionary. He is considered to be one of the best prose-writers of the end of the fourteenth century and was an innovator and the man who introduced the renaissance style into Catalan literature.
Following his stepfather he became a notary of the Royal Chancellery, working in the service of King Joan I in a number of jobs with increasing responsibility. When the king died in 1396, he was tried for corruption and treason but was absolved in 1398, whereupon he joined the court of King Martí I until the latter's death in 1410. The result of the accusations against him was his masterpiece Lo somni (The Dream, 1399). Divided into four books and written in first person, he uses a device reminiscent of Plato in a dialogue with the deceased King Joan who demonstrates the innocence of his former secretary. He returns to this theme in his unfinished work Apologia (Apology, 1395), which was inspired by Petrarch's Secretum.
Also among his prose works are the translations Ovidi enamorat (Ovid in Love) and Valter e Griselda (1388), his Catalan version of Petrarch's Latin translation of Griselda's story from Boccaccio's Decameron. Samples of his prose style are also to be found in the letters he wrote as the king’s personal secretary. He also wrote in verse, for example the parodies Sermó (Sermon) and Medicina (Medicine, c. 1396). Then again, with Llibre de Fortuna e Prudència (Book of Fortune and Sound Judgement, 1381) he describes in octosyllabics a journey to the fabulous Fortune Island in order to prove his innocence of the charges levelled against him.
Web page: Guillem Molla for AELC.
Image: Xylography from Lo Somni. Barcelona: Estampa de Francisco Altés, 1891.