- Hardcover: 1024 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (June 10, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871403579
- ISBN-13: 978-0871403575
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.9 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fabliaux 1st Edition
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A fabliau is an “Old French comic tale in verse,” explains R. Howard Bloch, Sterling Professor of French at Yale University, in his informative, tantalizing introduction to the first modern anthology of these little-known, devilishly bawdy and irreverent works. The 69 fabliaux presented here in their original French and translated into rascally, buoyant English by Nathaniel E. Dubin, are relentlessly scabrous, egregiously misogynistic, and exuberantly oppositional to “bourgeois respectability” and the church. With such mischievous titles as “The Cleric behind the Chest,” “Black Balls,” and “The Knight Who Made Cunts Talk,” the rollicking fabliaux were composed during the Middle Ages to be performed aloud, forgotten for more than two centuries, then gingerly resurrected by scholars. Vivid, funny, robustly grotesque, and drolly outrageous, these satirical tales of lust, revenge, and folly feature lecherous peasants, fornicating priests, scoundrels, fools, and women wily and tough, castigated and abused. Though their leering focus is on the body and its appetites, the fabliaux do reflect their world, one both alien to us and undeniably familiar. An historic literary achievement bound to arouse vociferous discussion. --Donna Seaman
“Like Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf,…Dubin reproduces the world and the feeling of the medieval tale…that travel joyfully from the Middle Ages to the present.”
- R. Howard Bloch, from the introduction to The Fabliaux
“Devilishly bawdy and irreverent…The 69 fabliaux presented here in their original French and translated into rascally, buoyant English by Nathaniel E. Dubin, are relentlessly scabrous, egregiously misogynistic, and exuberantly oppositional to ‘bourgeois respectability’ and the church…. Vivid, funny, robustly grotesque, and drolly outrageous, these satirical tales of lust, revenge, and folly feature lecherous peasants, fornicating priests, scoundrels, fools, and women wily and tough, castigated and abused…. An historic literary achievement bound to arouse vociferous discussion.”
“Pure, unadulterated fun…. A golden bough of erotic imagination and folk humor, peopled by randy wives, cuckolded husbands, fornicating priests, and priapic knights…. Ultimately, what’s so potent and profound about these risqué yarns is not their unbridled expressions of sexuality and vulgarity per se, but their unusual ability to provoke a carnivalesque laughter in all. Through denuding, debauchery, and bodily degradation, the fabliaux create a common denominator for humanity, an earthy, holistic world in which, to quote Bakhtin again, ‘he who is laughing also belongs to it.’ Flaunting unabashed obscenity in delightful verse, The Fabliaux is a book that would entertain the fans of Dr. Freud and Dr. Seuss alike.”
- Yunte Huang, The Daily Beast
“Fabliaux are comic tales, in verse, composed between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries…. The words used…have not been adjusted to conform to modern immodesty; the translation is literal…[This is the] first substantial collection of fabliaux, in any language, for today’s general reader.”
- Joan Acocella, The New Yorker
“The fabliaux, then, is a short story that is a tall story. It combines a burly blurting of dirty words with a reveling in humiliations that are good unclean fun. A popular venture that is keen to paste―épater―everybody (not just the bourgeoisie), it is the art of the single entendre. Highly staged low life, it guffaws at the pious, the prudish, and the priggish. High cockalorum versus high decorum…. The introduction here, like the translator’s note, tells well the story of the comic tales, anonymous for the most part, usually two or three hundred lines long, of which about 160 exist.”
- Christopher Ricks, New York Review of Books
“The fabliaux are important not only for their approach to humor, but for their focus on sex, class and wealth, and bodily functions like eating and defecating―all elements quite absent from more highbrow, courtly, or Church-sanctioned religious texts. Liveright’s edition serves as the largest and most complete collection of fabliaux, in English or French, ever published “for the general reader…" The Fabliaux is a reminder that medieval texts can remain engaging, lively, and, above all, funny.”
- Charlotte Bhaskar, Zyzzyva
Top customer reviews
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I heartily enjoyed this modern rendition and praise it highly.
This needs fixing. If fixed, it would be 5 stars for a very good translation, with useful introduction.
Readers who expect every story to be both hilarious and racy are apt to be disappointed, however. I didn't keep count and have loaned my copy, so I report only that I found few stories as humorous and racy as ones for which Chaucer is famous. Indeed, at least two inspired Chaucer, perhaps via Boccaccio's Decameron. Others were either humorous or racy, and still others seemed neither humorous nor racy.
Not all Fabliaux are included in the book, and omitted stories may be less compelling than those that remain. Nevertheless, finding perhaps a third of the stories neither especially informative nor entertaining, I dock the book one star.
Most recent customer reviews
Old French poems, lewd nasty and low.
The ending rhyme is often forced in,
Thanks to translator Nathaniel Dubin.Read more