By Sarah Gordon
Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature makes a speciality of the intersection of nutrients and humor throughout numerous medieval narrative genres. This e-book is part of the Purdue reports in Romance Literature sequence.
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Additional resources for Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature
As spiritual devotion takes the place of chivalric duty, so are Perceval’s hungers altered. Gluttony and the needs, desires, and pleasures of the body have been surpassed as the earthly youth becomes a spiritual champion; we will consider his development further in the next chapter. Similarly, the pious hosts in the Second Perceval Continuation abstain from the ﬂesh of meat, but have a bountiful feast of ﬁsh including salmon. The hermits are vegetarian, depending on grains, greens, bread, and water for penitential nourishment as in Chrétien as well as in nonﬁctional ecclesiastical works.
The feast is a space of communication, where men and women could come together as equals at court. In romance and epic, the feast may also act as a contrast to other actions, such as quests or battles, because “le banquet instaure une plage spatiale et temporelle, plaisante et paisible qui contraste avec les angoisses et les violences de la narration épique” (Combarieu, “Bonnes” 288). Meals serve as a catalyst to action, or as the scene of central narrative episodes. In the fabliaux and the Roman de Renart, culinary space is also the space of play.
Anne Elizabeth Cobby demonstrates that Aucassin represents “. . a character forever at odds with conventions to which he is yet closely linked; and through him we are kept in constant touch with our 19 Chapter One literary experience and expectations, whilst being shown that they are far from reliable” (Ambivalent Conventions 63). By extension then, the food ﬁght—along with the actions of the accident-prone Aucassin—is disruptive of narrative and societal conventions because of its violently subversive use of humorous, unanticipated ingredients.
Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature by Sarah Gordon