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Aucassin and Nicolete Tr. - Andrew Lang

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Aucassin and Nicolete

INTRODUCTION



There is nothing in artistic poetry quite akin to "Aucassin and
Nicolete."

By a rare piece of good fortune the one manuscript of the Song-Story
has escaped those waves of time, which have wrecked the bark of
Menander, and left of Sappho but a few floating fragments.  The very
form of the tale is peculiar; we have nothing else from the twelfth
or thirteenth century in the alternate prose and verse of the cante-
fable. {1} We have fabliaux in verse, and prose Arthurian romances.
We have Chansons de Geste, heroic poems like "Roland," unrhymed
assonant laisses, but we have not the alternations of prose with
laisses in seven-syllabled lines.  It cannot be certainly known
whether the form of "Aucassin and Nicolete" was a familiar form--
used by many jogleors, or wandering minstrels and story-tellers such
as Nicolete, in the tale, feigned herself to be,--or whether this is
a solitary experiment by "the old captive" its author, a
contemporary, as M. Gaston Paris thinks him, of Louis VII (1130).
He was original enough to have invented, or adopted from popular
tradition, a form for himself; his originality declares itself
everywhere in his one surviving masterpiece.  True, he uses certain
traditional formulae, that have survived in his time, as they
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