Chaucer’s Fabliaux as Analogues

E. Hertog (Author),

Series: Mediaevalia Lovaniensia - Series 1-Studia 19

Category: History, History 500-1500

Language: French

ISBN: 9789061864622

Publication date: January 1, 1991

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Size: 240 x 160 x mm


The presence of so many fabliaux in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is intriguing in its own right, given the fact that there are no real fabliaux in Middle English befor Chaucer.

But these stories are also interesting as instances of a concept and practice thas has received little critical attention so far, namely ‘analogy’, the writing and, above all, recognition of ‘similar’ stories. How to account for the literary practice that enables us to perceive stories as similar, c.q. analogous? This original study sets out to explore this phenomenon, first tentatively vis-à)vis other terms and practices (Translation, Borrowing, Adaptation, Version) and then, in the major part of the book, in a pragmatic-structuralist analysis of four salient components of narrative – Plot, Character, Thematics, and Genre – each illustrated with examples taken from Chaucer’s fabliaux and their analogues in various European languages.

In each of the four chapters the key-issue is Categorisation and Hertog traces its evolution and usefulness a a concept from Wittgenstein’s family resemblances’ and Zadeh’s ‘fuzzy set theory’ to E. Rosch’s Prototype theory. The conclusion draws attention to two aspects which set Chaucer’s fabliaux very much apart from the other analogues: their contextuality within the polylogue of the Canterbury Tales, and secondly, their explicit intertextuality which invites us to look anew at the assumptions of traditional source-criticism. The study ends with some theoretical reflections on analogy and an attempt at definition.

The book will interest not only Chaucerians and other medievalists but also scholars in literarry theory and interpretation.


  1. Plot
    The perception of Plot
    The Summoner’s Tale and the Analogues
    The Reeve’s Tale and the Analogues

  2. Character
    The Actantial Structure
    The Social Model
    The Acteurs: Heile, Viola and Alisoun
  3. Thematics
    The Isotopic Approach
    The Mapping Structure of Metaphor
    An Analysis of the Merchant’s Tale
  4. Genre
    The relationship to tradition
    The Communicative Situation of Genre
    Conclusion: the Example of the Shipman’s Tale


E. Hertog

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