Landmarks in French Literature (Paperback)
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Both the Chansons de Geste and the Romans Bretons were aristocratic literature: they were concerned with the life and ideals-the martial prowess, the chivalric devotion, the soaring honour-of the great nobles of the age. But now another form of literature arose which depicted, in short verse narratives, the more ordinary conditions of middle-class life. These Fabliaux, as they were called, are on the whole of no great value as works of art; their poetical form is usually poor, and their substance exceedingly gross. Their chief interest lies in the fact that they reveal, no less clearly than the aristocratic Chansons, some of the most abiding qualities of the French genius. Its innate love of absolute realism and its peculiar capacity for cutting satire-these characteristics appear in the Fabliaux in all their completeness.