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The Narrative Imagination

The Narrative Imagination: Comic Tales by Phillippe de Vigneulles

Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    The Narrative Imagination
    Book Description:

    Philippe de Vigneulles (1471--1528), cloth merchant and hosier from the city of Metz, wrote a collection of comic short stories which he called Cent Nouvelles ou contes joyeux. The work constitutes an important step in the development of the nouvelle form in France. In an extended explication, Ms. Kotin analyzes the tales for the modern reader, historically, generically, structurally, and in terms of their human significance.

    Inscribed in a tradition of short narrative forms in late medieval and early Renaissance France, these tales remake or recast traditional narrative patterns into new forms. Philippe de Vigneulles's tales constitute a "recit" of human life, supported by the sympathetic presence of the author and his beloved city of Metz.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6371-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Philippe de Vigneulles was a bourgeois cloth merchant in the city of Metz at the turn of the sixteenth century. Although Metz at this time was part of the German empire and recognized the emperor as its supreme ruler, it was actually a free city having its own government. Partly elected and partly appointed, it was a complicated government, having at its head a Maître-Echevin and the high court called Les Treize. Being a walled city, and often called upon to defend its independence, Metz had acquired by the time of the birth of Philippe de Vigneulles in 1471 a...

  5. Chapter One The Tradition of the Cent Nouvelles
    (pp. 18-37)

    Like most authors of his time and of medieval times, Philippe de Vigneulles wrote a prologue introducing his collection of stories and frequently used a brief prologue to present individual tales. Typically, in the individual prologues as in the main one, the author addresses the reader directly, using a form of the verb in the second person or the pronounvous.Thus the prologues have the immediate function of establishing a contact between author and reader or hearer. Besides this general role, the prologues serve to introduce the author and justify his activity as tale-teller, thus constituting a “theoretical” statement...

  6. Chapter Two Sequential Models
    (pp. 38-59)

    Thenouvelleas a genre lends itself particularly well to structural analysis, both because of its relative brevity and because of its unity and “closure” (Zumthor,Essai,p. 400). In studying the structure of medieval short narratives, some critics have established a distinction between sequence of events and situation. Ferrier, for instance, stated that the fifteenth-centurynouvellelaid more stress on the situation than on the sequence of events. The situation was created by the juxtaposition of character types (p. 21), and its importance was such that she calls it “the dominant feature of prose fiction at the close of...

  7. Chapter Three Comedy or Morality
    (pp. 60-78)

    The twofold nature of the narrative sequences has its reflection in what can be called the double intention of the work, reflected in the presence of morals and laughter: the didactic and amusing purposes or the intent to instruct and please. The interrelation between both aspects is the subject of this chapter.

    The premise of the preceding chapter was that the comic outcome depends on the sequence of events. Here I posit that the inadvertency which characterizes the outcome of every plot sequence is governed by certain constraints which determine, characterize, modify, or color that comic event. Related to the...

  8. Chapter Four A New Realism
    (pp. 79-96)

    In writing his only work of fiction, Philippe de Vigneulles gave considerable attention to presenting it as a true picture of the life he knew at Metz. No relatively sophisticated reader would be so foolish as to maintain that the events of the tales are historically real, simply because they are so presented. Reality serves not as raw material, but as a formal picture, to borrow Auerbach’s distinction (Zur Technik, p. 1). The reality of life in and around Metz provides a source of inspiration for the creation of this formal picture, whose presence is so insistent and whose force...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 97-104)

    One cannot help but feel that theCent Nouvellesis a significantly personal work, for the personality of the author, such as it is presented especially in theMémoires,pervades the tales. Two essential manifestations of this somewhat subjective quality imprint the collection with originality and lend it its uniqueness; they are the feeling of pride associated with the city of Metz and the elaboration of a coherent set of values.

    In his unique manner, the bourgeois merchant-turned-author celebrated events of his hometown, peopling his book with real persons whom everyone knew (“Assés de gens ou la pluspart des habitans...

  10. Appendix A List of Short Titles
    (pp. 107-110)
  11. Appendix B Classification of Adultery Tales
    (pp. 111-112)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 113-120)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 121-136)
  14. Index of Tales
    (pp. 137-138)
  15. General Index
    (pp. 139-142)