Three Medieval Views of Women

"La Contenance des Fames," "Le Bien des Fames," "Le Blasme des Fames"

Edited by Gloria K. Fiero, Wendy Pfeffer, and Mathé Allain

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September 10, 1989
184 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300044416
Cloth

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Out of Print

This bilingual edition of three French poems dating from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries contains two poems that assail the vices of women and a third that lists women's virtues. The lively and amusing verses, translated into English for the first time, are prefaced by essays that set the poems into their linguistic, historical, and literary contexts. Together, the poems and essays provide significant insights into the role of women in the Middle Ages as well as into medieval social history and the history of misogyny.
The pairing of one pro-female poem and two anti-female ones deliberately mirrors the medieval polemic concerning women and the misogynic tradition that had prevailed since antiquity. The essay by Gloria Fiero explores this tradition, in the course of describing the manners, morals, domestic arrangements, occupations, and dress of feudal society. Wendy Pfeffer discusses the language and genre of the poems and provides an account of the existing manuscripts of the texts and their variants. The poems, presented with French and English texts on facing pages, are fully annotated and accompanied by extensive explanatory materials. Fourteen illustrations drawn from contemporary medieval sources complement the topics treated. Included also are a selected reading list and bibliography.

Gloria K. Fiero is professor of history and Mathé Allain is associate professor of French at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Wendy Pfeffer is associate professor of French at the University of Louisville.

"A lot of things make this edition and translation attractive. It has fourteen handsome black and white plates of various depictions of women in medieval art. It has a useful selected reading list . . . and a much longer and more varied bibliography of references that is also a potentially valuable resource."—Melissa Furrow, Dalhousie Review

"[The editors] have provided a historical introduction to the poems that is at once erudite and light in touch. There is an excellent section on female costume. . . . The editors intelligently outline the position of women, both in courtly, noble society . . . and in bourgeois circles."—Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books


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