L ' Escole au deable: Tavern Scenes in the Old French Moralité


Alan Hindley


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

To study the drama of thirteenth-century Arras is to be immediately aware of the significance of the tavern as a representation of the world of sin into which characters are drawn, be it the robbers of Jean Bodel's Le Jeu de Saint Nicolas, the prodigal son of the anonymous Courtois d 'Arras, or the motley crowd onstage at the end of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de lafeuillée. Such scenes have attracted critical attention in recent years: Jane B. Dozer has shown how the tavern came to be identified in the popular consciousness as the appropriate dramatic locus for non-Christian comic scenes, and usefully reproduces Canon and Civil interdictions levelled at tavern-based activities.1 More recently, Jean Dufournet's study of the tavern scenes in the Arras plays highlights a number of recurring themes with their variations both goliardic and moralizing.2In these plays the tavern is a place of sin and temptation, presided over by a tavern-keeper who fleeces his customers, lured there by the wine that gives them courage to consort with prostitutes or to indulge in fraud, depicted most tellingly in the extensive gambling episodes. This heritage, however, is somewhat subverted in the closing scenes of Le Jeu de la Feuillée, where there is no joy of salvation, or even of inebriation-only madness and despair.

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