Three Medieval Views of Women (Paperback)

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

By Gloria K. Fiero (Editor), Wendy Pfeffer (Editor), Mathé Allain (Editor)

Yale University Press, 9780300044423, 184pp.

Publication Date: September 10, 1989

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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.