ADVANTAGES

No single theory can account for the writing, performance, or preservation of the fabliaux over the course of nearly three centuries. Surely some of them were originally no more than non-poetic, obscene improvisations intended for after-dinner entertainment as Joseph Bedier and others have argued. And some of the manuscripts containing them must have been complied by or for private collectors with a taste for bawdy stories. Yet the best of the fabliaux - and the fabliaux collectively as they have been preserved in several different contexts - can teach us just how enlivening the small bawdy comedies of sex, gender war, and treachery were for the unfolding of later medieval literature.

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