Article Title

Metaphorical Obscenity in French Farce, 1460-1560


In lieu of an abstract, the first of the essay follows:

The plays usually referred to by French critics as "l'ancienne farce" are at last being thoroughly studied.1 There are about 150 of them ( definitions differ), but the only one well known to most students of literature is Maistre Pierre Pathelin, probably written about 1464. They are all in verse, most usually in octosyllabic rhyming couplets, and most of them are anonymous. Unlike the contemporary sotties, which use personification and allegory, often for satirical purposes, the farces are about real people: husbands and wives, cobblers, policemen and :fishmongers. Though quite short (between 10 and 40 minutes' acting time), farces have plots, often very similar to the plots of fabliau and conte, which show human folly in action in specific circumstances. And there is plenty of action-farce characters engage in trade and chicanery, disguise themselves, chase and beat each other, eat, drink and urinate, hide in cages and privies, seduce each others' wives, confess to priests and go to law.

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