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This new, tri-lingual edition of Li Proverbe au Vilain is a fascinating collection of Medieval French poems, each followed by a proverb or popular saying and the phrase "Or so the peasant says." The language is occasionally bawdy and the subject matter sometimes earthy, yet the poems provide a colorful series of snapshots of 12th century France. In many respects, they are also a practical guide on how one would have led a good and moral life in the Middle Ages. Taken collectively, the poems provide the reader with new insights into the Medieval Era, particularly from the point of view of the common man.
The author of most of the poems was a cleric in the court of Philippe of Flanders during the second half of the 12th century. He was obviously well educated and trained to earn a living with his pen, but he loved his peasant origins. His experiences in both courtly and peasant surroundings offer a rich composite of social observations.
With an introduction and notes in both English and French and the Old French text presented with translations into both modern languages, this delightful collection is now available to a wide cross-section of the general public, as well as to scholars and students for use in the classroom.
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John C. Bednar, Ph.D is a Professor of French in the Department of Languages at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Author of La Spiritualite et le symbolisme dans les oeuvres de Chretien de Troyes, John Bednar has also taught at Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Penn State University. He is currently the Director of the Language and International Trade Program at Clemson University.
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