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Old French In The Eighteenth Century: Aucassin et Nicolette

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Chapter Summary

The complex publishing history of the short medieval prosimetric work Aucassin et Nicolette provides a certain, perhaps unexpected, insight into eighteenth-century attitudes to Old French literature and indeed to the Middle Ages in general. In the different versions of the text that appeared throughout the century these two elements, archaism and sentimentalism, are consistently heightened by their eighteenth-century adaptors. The publishing history of Aucassin et Nicolette begins with the discovery of the manuscript in the Bibliothèque royale in Paris by the distinguished Old French scholar Jean-Baptiste de La Curne de Sainte-Palaye. Despite the negative edge to the review, Les Amours du bon vieux temps seems to have been a reasonable publishing success. The multifarious eighteenth-century guises of Aucassin et Nicolette are all eminently literary rewritings of a literary text.

Keywords: Aucassin et Nicolette; eighteenth-century medievalism; Les Amours du bon vieux temps; old French literature



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