Bringing the work of a highly influential medieval French writer to English-speaking audiences for the first time
“The medieval master of genre, twelfth-century poet Jean Bodel, finally gets the attention he deserves in this essential study. Ramey’s lucid discussion of the wide range of genres Bodel defined—from chanson de geste to miracle play, pastourelle to fabliaux—is complemented by cleverly wrought translations of his multivalent work into English.”—Joan E. McRae, author of An Introduction to Literary Debate in Late Medieval France: From “Le Roman de la Rose” to “La Belle Dame sans Mercy”
This book explores the life and works of Jean Bodel, an influential author who lived in twelfth-century Arras, France. A versatile poet, playwright, and epic writer who established new genres such as fabliaux and the mystery play, Bodel remains relatively unknown to Anglophone audiences. Lynn Ramey offers translations and summaries of works never published before in English while delving into Bodel’s historical and cultural context.
After a brief introduction to the poet, Ramey highlights the stimulating and cosmopolitan environment of Arras, considering the influence of the Crusades and social movements in shaping Bodel’s works. Next, Ramey provides an extensive survey of all of Bodel’s known writing across his prolific career by genre, from his most well-known work, The Play of Saint Nicholas (Le Jeu de Saint Nicolas), to his final piece, Farewell (Les Congés), which offers important insight into his diagnosis of leprosy toward the end of his life. Ramey translates several pieces including pastourelles, fabliaux, and selections from the Song of the Saxons (Chanson de Saisnes). The book also includes information on Bodel’s sources, a chronology, and a glossary.
With much of the existing scholarship on Bodel only available in French, this book bridges a gap in knowledge of the poet and serves as a useful resource for both students and specialists. An Introduction to Jean Bodel allows a broader audience to engage with the writer’s wide-ranging work and contributions to literary history.
Lynn T. Ramey, professor of French and cinema and media arts at Vanderbilt University, is the author of Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages.
A volume in the series New Perspectives on Medieval Literature: Authors and Traditions, edited by R. Barton Palmer and Tison Pugh
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