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Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature
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summary
Long before Rabelaisian tales of gargantuan gluttony regaled early modern audiences, and centuries before pie-in-the-face gags enlivened vaudeville slapstick, medieval French poets employed food as a powerful device of humor and criticism.Food and laughter, essential elements in human existence, can be used to question the meaning of cultural conventions concerning the body and sexuality, religion, class hierarchies, and gender relations. This book unites the cultural and literary study of representations of food and consumption with theoretical approaches to comedy, humor, and parody in late twelfth- through early-fourteenth-century French fictional verse narratives of epic chanson de geste, theater, Arthurian verse romance, fabliau, and the beast epic of the Roman de Renart. From socially inept epic heroes to hungry knights-errant and mischievous fabliau housewives, out of the ordinary food usage embodies humor. Some knights prefer fighting with roast chicken or bread loaves rather than their swords. Specific foods such as sausages, lard, pears, nuts, or chickens provoked laughter by their mere presence in a scene. Culinary comedy serves as both social satire and literary parody, playing with institutional social conduct and alimentary codes. Its power lies in its ability to disrupt and to reinforce the same conventions it ridicules.

Table of Contents

  1. cover
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  1. title page
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  1. copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. p. vii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. ix
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-13
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  1. Chapter One - Food Fight: Medieval Gastronomy and Literary Convention
  2. pp. 14-49
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  1. Chapter Two - Uncourtly Table Manners in Arthurian Romance
  2. pp. 50-96
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  1. Chapter Three - Much Ado about Bacon: The Old French Fabliaux
  2. pp. 97-139
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  1. Chapter Four - Hungry like the Wolf, Sly as a Fox: Le Roman de Renart
  2. pp. 140-177
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 178-182
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 183-196
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 197-210
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 211-219
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  1. About the Author
  2. p. 220
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