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YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY “BÉRENGER AU LONG CUL” AND THE PASTOURELLE KATHERINE A. BROWN SCHOLARS have long recognized the role of parody in the MS D version of the fabliau “Bérenger au long cul.” Specifically, Roy J. Pearcy has suggested allusions to the epic cycle of Guillaume d’Orange and to the Estoire de Merlin for parts of the text,1 while Keith Busby has instead posited a direct relation of parody between the first half of the fabliau and three of Chrétien de Troyes’s romances: Erec et Enide, Yvain, and the Conte du Graal.2 None of these models fully addresses the central episode of the tale, that of the encounter between husband and wife in the forest which results in the “baiser honteux.” To this list of sources for parody I would add another for the central episode of “Bérenger au long cul”: the pastourelle. While the MS D version of “Bérenger” owes much of its humor to parodies of epic poetry and romance, the structural model of the pastourelle supplies the impetus for the inversions of gender, social rank, and the sexual encounter present in this version, and to a lesser degree in the other two manuscript versions. I do not mean to imply that the pastourelle replaces courtly or heroic models as the only source for “Bérenger au long cul,” but rather that it coexists with these other parodies . The episode which results in the “baiser honteux” depends for its humor on epic, romance, and pastourelle elements. 1 For a discussion of heroic parody in “Bérenger au long cul,” see Pearcy, “Relations between the D and A Versions of ‘Bérenger au long cul’” (1972); “An Instance of Heroic Parody in the Fabliaux” (1977); and “Chansons de geste and Fabliau” (1978). For treatment of the differences between the versions of “Bérenger” in MSS A and D and a discussion of a courtly source, see Rychner. 2 See Busby, “Fabliau et Roman Breton” (1984) and “Courtly Literature and the Fabliaux” (1986). YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY 323 As a genre, the pastorela originated in the langue d’oc tradition of lyric poetry. The pastorela was, however, well received in the north where many trouvères, including Jean Bodel – who is often cited as the first fableor3 – composed their own pastourelles in langue d’oïl.4 Thus, the genre would have been familiar to northern audiences and arguably to the same audiences that knew fabliaux. Essential to the pastourelle is the clear social divide, the mixture of noble and vilain characters that distinguishes it from courtly works where both lady and knight are of necessity nobles. Whereas the aggressive attempts at seductions depicted in most pastourelle would be inappropriate for a knight of courtly literature , here they are justified by – or at least accepted because of – the lady’s lower social status. This is not to suggest that the pastourelle in any way undermines notions of courtoisie, but rather that it complements courtly literature. The genre typically involves four key moments: 1) a knight riding alone in the forest hears the song of a bergère; 2) he approaches to find her alone or else spies on her and her amant; 3) a dialogue ensues during which the knight attempts to seduce the girl; 4) and finally, the seduction is achieved either by force or agreement, or the knight is unsuccessful and is forced to flee.5 The central episode in “Bérenger” reproduces all four of these elements through parodic inversion , and similarly complements courtly literature. The fabliau tells of an impoverished chastelain who repays his creditor by marrying off his own daughter to the usurer’s son. When the vilain’s son begins to boast about his chivalric exploits, his disbelieving wife decides to put him to the test. Dressed as a knight herself, she follows him to the forest where she hears and sees him beating and abusing his arms in mock battle in an attempt to provide evidence that he is indeed fighting other knights. She approaches him with threatening remarks and demands that they fight or that he humiliate himself by kissing her cul. The cowardly husband chooses the kiss...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2165-7599
Print ISSN
0035-7995
Pages
pp. 323-331
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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