Aucassin and Nicolette cover
Aucassin and Nicolette
A Facing-Page Edition and Translation
Edited by Robert S. Sturges
A comic masterpiece of medieval French literature, Aucassin and Nicolette is categorized by its anonymous author as a “chantefable,” or “song-story,” and is the only known work of this kind. This edition includes the thirteenth-century French text and a modern English translation on facing pages. An introduction outlines the text’s background, genre, literary relations, historical contexts, major themes, and relevance to a contemporary audience. Its alternating sections of verse and prose recount a story of love between the aristocratic but distinctly unheroic young lord Aucassin and his beloved Nicolette. Despite familial disapproval, class and ethnic differences, imprisonment, and geographical separation, Nicolette’s single-minded pursuit of Aucassin raises interesting questions about gender roles and their depiction in the Middle Ages. The issue of identity is also addressed, as the identity of Nicolette shifts in terms of class, religion, and ethnicity: born a Muslim princess, she becomes both a slave and a Christian convert, and is eventually recaptured by her Saracen family, much to her displeasure. With its daring escapes, its descriptions of travel to exotic lands, its separations, and its happy reunions, Aucassin and Nicolette is both a classic romantic comedy and an entertaining parody of the romance genre.
Publication Date: March 1st, 2015
134 pages| 6 in x 9 in
Early Praise

“Robert Sturges, a first-rate critic and scholar, here demonstrates that he is no less gifted as an editor and translator. This is a superb presentation of Aucassin and Nicolette, with an authoritative introduction and brief but useful explanatory notes. The translation is particularly admirable, as Sturges adroitly renders the verse sections into four-stress rhyming lines without distorting normal syntax. This is an ideal volume for use by students or by any reader eager to discover one of the most fascinating and engaging texts of the Middle Ages.”
Norris J. Lacy, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor Emeritus of French and Medieval Studies, Penn State University
“Robert Sturges has rendered this charming late-thirteenth-century French work into equally charming English poetry and prose, following the divisions of the original. His clear, lively translation will endear Aucassin and Nicolette to students. The concise and helpful introduction, noting crucial issues in the text of gender-bending, genre confusion, race, religion, class, and the interest in the Self/Other, demonstrates to students and scholars alike what may be at stake in a reading of the work. Sturges has made the work new, and this delightful translation of a seemingly simple but clever and transgressive text surely will be the version of Aucassin and Nicolette to assign to classes or to read for the sheer pleasure the work affords.”
Christine M. Rose, Director of Literary Studies, Portland State University, translator, with Gina L. Greco, of The Good Wife’s Guide (Le Ménagier de Paris)
”This is a lively translation that beautifully captures the humor and playfulness of the original. Sturges is to be commended especially for his rendering of the lyric passages into English verse. The general reader will appreciate the introduction that locates the work within a medieval landscape at the same time that it presents an overview of current scholarly interest in the work’s treatment of gender, class, and race.”
Deborah McGrady, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of French, University of Virginia


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ISBN: 9781611861570

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