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  • AUCASSIN AND NICOLETE

      Author : Andrew Lang

        By a rare piece of good fortune the one manuscript of the Song–Story has escaped those waves of time, which have wrecked the bark of Menander, and left of Sappho but a few floating fragments. The very form of the tale is peculiar; we have nothing else from the twelfth or thirteenth century in the alternate prose and verse of the cante-fable. 1 We have fabliaux in verse, and prose Arthurian romances. We have Chansons de Geste, heroic poems like “Roland,” unrhymed assonant laisses, but we have not the alternations of prose with laisses in seven-syllabled lines. It cannot be certainly known whether the form of “Aucassin and Nicolete” was a familiar form — used by many jogleors, or wandering minstrels and story-tellers such as Nicolete, in the tale, feigned herself to be,— or whether this is a solitary experiment by “the old captive” its author, a contemporary, as M. Gaston Paris thinks him, of Louis VII (1130). He was original enough to have invented, or adopted from popular tradition, a form for himself; his originality declares itself everywhere in his one surviving masterpiece. True, he uses certain traditional formulae, that have survived in his time, as they survived in Homer’s, from the manner of purely popular poetry, of Volkslieder.



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