The Romance of the Violet and Other Wager Tales from Medieval France

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About the Book

A high-stakes wager placed on a woman’s virtue; men who spy on bathing women; tell-tale birthmarks; cross-dressing; dragons; tournaments; and aristocrats bursting into song—these features and more appear in the three stories translated here, all versions of the folktale known as “the wager tale.” Such stories were especially popular in thirteenth-century France, when noblemen fulfilled their feudal duties far from home. Did their women remain faithful? A pressing question, for only female chastity guaranteed the legitimacy of heirs.
This collection offers the first translations into English of The Romance of the Violet and The Count of Poitiers, along with a new version of The Tale of King Flore and the Fair Joan. The first paints a vivid portrait of thirteenth-century courtly life. The second, set in the eighth-century court of King Pepin, includes both a wager tale and a bride quest, the latter involving a shocking scene of female group nudity. Flore and Joan takes a different tack, presenting a clear-eyed heroine who overcomes daunting odds by posing as a man. These medieval tales portray strong women who gainsay social control of their bodies, thereby winning the respect of men—a scenario that resonates even today.

About the Author(s)

Nancy Vine Durling has taught French and comparative literature at Princeton, UC Santa Cruz, Florida Atlantic University, University of Oregon (Eugene), and UC Berkeley. The author of numerous articles on Old French literature, and several translations, she lives in Austin, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Translated by Nancy Vine Durling
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9437-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5400-3
Imprint: McFarland