FOR THE FIRST TIME in a convenient English anthology, Peter Speed assembles seventy-nine representative tales of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, together with useful and well-informed introductions to genres and traditions.
Part I surveys the Spanish tradition. The Oriental anthologies include Calila and Dimna and Sendebar — Spanish versions of the frame stories of India, Persia, and the Muslim world popularized in A Thousand and One Nights. The medieval exempla include The Book of Cats, The Book of Exempla A.B.C., the Mirror of the Laity, Juan Ruiz’s Libro de Buen Amor, plus such later anthologies as The Seven Sages of Rome and the Life and Fables of Aesop.
Part II offers a representative selection of sixteen French fabliaux, ranging from the sexual warfare of such well-known stories as The Goodwife of Orleans to the wily folk wisdom of The Peasant Who Argued His Way into Paradise.
Part III presents English stories that set the stage for Elizabethan comedy, including a sampling of humorous ballads from the later Middle Ages, and a selection from A Hundred Mery Talys, a sixteenth-century joke book.
Speed Edits these tales with all the rough edges, ribald humor, and unapologetic earthiness of their time and place. Here the reader will discover stories that recall Aesop, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Molière, as vixen and wolf, monk and priest, merchant and shopkeeper, lord of the manor and courtly lady, all wage sexual and social, moral, religious and economic battles of wit, chicanery, and sometimes loyalty and faith.
79 Tales, 218 pp.
Introduction, bibliography, illustrated.
Pricing will vary.