The Old French Fabliaux

Essays on Comedy and Context

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About the Book

This collection of 14 critical essays examines short comedic tales from the 13th and 14th centuries, commonly known as the medieval French fabliaux. Each essay focuses on a different aspect of common fabliaux humor, as illustrated by a scholarly analysis of one or several original texts. Topics covered include the use and misuse of metaphorical language, the trickster figure, humorous treatments of subjects ranging from seduction to physical violence, and numerous fabliau examples of scheming and deception, whether for purposes of revenge or sexual conquest or for the simple pleasure of successful deceit. Throughout the work, contributors provide a serious analysis of the fabliaux without losing sight of the tales’ original comedic content and appeal.

About the Author(s)

Kristin L. Burr is an associate professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
John F. Moran is a clinical assistant professor and the Director of Language programs in the Department of French at New York University in New York.
Norris J. Lacy is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of French and Medieval Studies at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Kristin L. Burr , John F. Moran and Norris J. Lacy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3290-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0700-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

Hamming It Up: Porcine Humor in the Old French Fabliaux      7

KRISTIN L. BURR

Fabliaux as Fair Exchange: Boivin de Provins and La Bourse pleine de sens      19

ELIZABETH W. POE

“So This Vilain Walks into a Bar…”: The Fabliau as Stand-up Comedy      30

JOHN F. MORAN

Customary Law in the Old French Fabliau      42

F.R.P. AKEHURST

Rhetorical Reasoning, Authority, and the Impossible Interlocutor in Le Vilain qui conquist paradis par plait      55

ELIZABETH KINNE

L’Esquiriel, or What’s in a Tail?      69

CAROLINE JEWERS

Trickery, Trubertage, and the Limits of Laughter      82

NORRIS J. LACY

“No, No, Nonete!”: Reciting Jean de Condé’s Virgin-less and Miracle-less Virgin Miracle      93

ADRIAN P. TUDOR

Rhyme or Reason: Le Prestre comporté and Le Prestre et le chevalier      107

ANNE COBBY

The Non-Conformist Fabliau Genre and Its Transgressions: A Bakhtinian Analysis of Two Old French Fabliaux      120

JEAN E. JOST

The “Fin Humour” of Guillaume au faucon      134

JOAN TASKER GRIMBERT

Modern Dirty Jokes and the Old French Fabliaux      147

LOGAN E. WHALEN

Esprit gaulois for the English: The Humor of the Anglo-Norman Fabliau      160

KEITH BUSBY

Marie de France in the Manuscripts: Lai, Fable, Fabliau      174

RUPERT T. PICKENS

About the Contributors      187

Index      191

Book Reviews & Awards

“refreshing…highlight[s] the lessons learned through fabliau humor”—Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies.