A History of French Literature: From Chanson de geste to - download pdf or read online

By David Coward

ISBN-10: 0631167587

ISBN-13: 9780631167587

This wonderful quantity offers an entire heritage of the literature of France from its origins to the current day, taking us past conventional definitions of ‘literature' into the area of the best-seller and, past phrases, to photo fiction and cinema

• offers a definitive heritage of the literature of France from its origins to the current day.
• contains insurance of Francophone writing in Europe, Canada, the West Indies and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
• hyperlinks the advance of literature to the mentalities and social stipulations which produced it.
• Takes us past “literature” to check picture fiction, cinema and the bestseller.
• Maps the increase of the highbrow, and in so doing charts a development from literary doctrine to severe theory.

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Extra resources for A History of French Literature: From Chanson de geste to Cinema

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The first surviving secular play is a short farce, Le Garçon et l’aveugle, written between 1266 and 1282, which shows, in the manner of the fabliau, how a smart youth meets his match. In the 1270s, at Arras, Adam de la Halle broke new ground with Le Jeu de la feuillée (which adds fairies to social realism in an extended congé) and Le Jeu de Robin et Marion, an elaborate pastourelle which allows Marion to reject the Knight and return to Robin. Secular theatre made little headway, though Rutebeuf’s Le Miracle de Théophile (1260) included elements of social realism.

Once dismissed as ‘popular’ or ‘bourgeois’ literature, the Roman de Renard is now seen as the reverse image of the chivalric epic. The saga sets Reynard against King Noble, the lion, and their struggle, enacted in field, farm and village, is an extended satire of feudal values. In this sense, Reynard is a rebel baron who encapsulates aristocratic corruption. But the satire is also directed elsewhere – specifically at churchmen whose gluttony, lechery and opportunism 18 THE MIDDLE AGES are regularly lampooned, and more generally at the follies and frailty of human nature.

If the first part of La Chanson de Guillaume has been admired almost as much as Roland, the second introduced Rainouart, a giant, whose buffoonery contrasts violently with its noble, other-worldly idealism. La Prise d’Orange, a continuation of Guillaume’s adventures, introduces melodrama and even more robust comic elements to which the initial sense of mission is made subservient. By the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Christian purpose had already been overlaid by elements of folk tale and legend.

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A History of French Literature: From Chanson de geste to Cinema by David Coward

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