If I single out for special attention the group of four papers devoted to the CanteFable, this has two reasons: one, Halpert's realization in 1941 and 1942, and later again in 1974 and 1976, that "the tale interspersed with song," well known to, and much discussed by, literary scholars in connection with the thirteenth-century French narrative Aucassin et Nicolette
, has, or at least had, echoes in American tradition in certain local folk rhymes, riddle tales, and humorous graces before meals, sometimes as the climax to a story.
Owen, however, escalates his leitmotif by finding Polyphemus yet again transmogrified in Voltaire' Candide (the syphilis-scarred Dr Pangloss), where Owen detects analogies with Aucassin et Nicolette
Butterfield's analysis of numerous texts over the course of two centuries offers a new context for notoriously unique works such as the cantefable Aucassin et Nicolette
, Jean Renart's Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole, and Guillaume de Machaut's Remede de Fortune, as well as several other narratives with lyric insertions.
This theme was also treated in the romance of Floire et Blancheflor, with which Aucassin et Nicolette
is thought to share common Moorish and Greco-Byzantine sources.
There is also a controversial study of Aucassin et Nicolette
, in which the author (Simonetta Mazzoni-Peruzzi) attempts to demonstrate that it was written by Jean Renart.
Its theme of separation and reunion of young lovers resembles that of Aucassin et Nicolette
, though the roles and religion of the two main characters are reversed.
Aucassin et Nicolette
does not merely mix forms: it also plays with literary conventions and topoi, to the extent that, suggests Ardis Butterfield, the work represents 'a challenge to the concept of genre as something stable, defined and coherent' (p.
257-63), not to mention tales like Floire et Blancheflor or Aucassin et Nicolette
, or romances in various languages.