Engendering Vice: The Exemplarity of the Old French Fabliaux
Horton, Ingrid Diane
University of Kansas
French & Italian
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Through close examination of thirteen representative fabliaux (L'anel qui faisoit les vis grans et roides, Connebert, La dame escoillee, Le foteor, Le moigne, Les perdris, Le pescheor de Pont seur Saine, Richeut, Les quatre sohais saint Martin, La saineresse, Les tresces, Les trois dames de Paris and Les trois dames qui troverent un vit),I show that their comedy and textual and bodily distortion represent real social concerns,making the fabliaux vehicles of social commentary. By examining the liturgical, literary and artistic trends at the time of fabliaux production and comparing them to these thirteen texts, I demonstrate that the fabliaux are, in fact,reflections of these trends and should be considered alongside them as their counterparts in popular culture. I also look at how the manipulation of language and register becomes an accomplice to the humor in these tales. And finally, I illustrate that vice, gender and the body combine to produce comic exempla; thus, like the exempla, fabliaux teach by example.