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Cultures courtoises en mouvement

Isabelle Arseneau
Francis Gingras

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Vengeance Is Sweet and Nothing Compares to a Good Insult

Wendy Pfeffer

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In the Occitan romance of Jaufre, the anonymous author names the villain of the story Taulat, “table.” This character in the tale offers no hospitality and incites both the eponymous hero and the heroine Brunissen to engage in fasts, avoiding the table entirely, Taulat’s company implicitly. The Jaufre story is a parody of Old French courtly romances; giving the villain a name connected with food continues the parodic aspect of the narrative, as his name serves as an insult to the character. The name also pokes fun at the conventions of courtly hospitality. This brief example serves as an introduction to how vocabulary relating to food and drink can be used to poke fun at or insult individuals in literary works.

Assigning a food-related name is not the only method. The thirteenth-century troubadour Peire Cardenal filled his lyrics with food and with food metaphors. He was famous for his invectives and frequently used food, drink, and culinary imagery in his attacks, so much so that on...


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