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fabliau, plural fabliaux (both: fäblēōˈ), short comic, often bawdy tale in verse that deals realistically and satirically with middle-class or lower-class characters. Fabliaux were often directed against marriage and against members of the clergy. The form was extremely popular in France during the Middle Ages. Excellent examples of fabliaux can be found in pre-Christian Oriental literature, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and in Boccaccio's Decameron.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a short comic or satirical verse tale in French urban literature of the 12th to early 14th centuries. About 150 fabliaux are extant, most of them anonymous, although such major poets as Rutebeuf wrote them as well.

The fabliaux were lively depictions of comic situations; they combined coarse humor with moral precepts. The main characters were sensual priests and monks, deceived husbands, and peasants. In terms of plot and ideology the fabliaux are similar to farces. The fabliaux influenced such Renaissance short stories as those of Boccaccio; their plots and stylistic features were later used by La Fontaine, Molière, Balzac (Droll Stories), and A. France.


Fablio: Starofrantsuzskie novelly, per. so starofrants. Moscow, 1971.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 138—44.
Rychner, J. Contribution à l’étude des fabliaux, vols. 1–2. Geneva-Paris, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
All of which suggests as well that the essential relation in dealing with the fabliaux is that of the poet to language and not the hopelessly fragile link of a supposedly original (though often lost) source to a final version.
The Stith Thompson Motif-Index of Folk-Literature; A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends (Indiana U.
The houses and gardens in the fabliaux are designed for husbands' intentions; however, women in fabliaux dwell within these places and turn them into their own spaces.
Fabliaux dwell on the rabid lustfulness of old cuckolds, a tradition that informs the portrayal of Joseph in biblical drama.
The vices ascribed to friars in satirical writing, such as lechery, avarice, pride, wrath, and hypocrisy, are the very same characteristics we see attached to the flawed anti-heroes of fabliaux, and the unfolding of the typical fabliau plot could, therefore, not only be said to create a fictional space in which to expose, humiliate, and punish the wrongdoing of an individual friar, but also generate feelings of opprobrium and indignation against the corruption and moral laxity of the fraternal institutions more generally.
63-105) French Bible stories (B only) Scribe B booklet 6 (quires 12-14, French fabliaux and fols.
Their names suggest the fluency with which the animal-human species divide is transgressed, not only through the medieval fabliaux that subtend the play generically, but also through the Pythagorean philosophy that is satirized in the opening interlude.
(12) The plot of tale 8.4 has antecedents in both classical and medieval Latin--particularly the pseudo-Ovidian De vetula--as well as in Old French fabliaux and Dante's dream of the siren (Purgatorio 19).
Among their topics are rural space and agricultural space in the Old French fabliaux, answering the challenges of social decay in William Langland's Piers Plowman, Juan Manuel's Libro de la caza (ca 1325), Jews in the Austrian countryside during the 14th century, and developing a gendered logic of rural space in the Netherlandish visual tradition.
Son "Memoire sur les fabliaux" est le premier travail critique consacre a ce genre jusqu'alors meconnu, qu'il contribue a revaloriser (Peeters 2006).