Lord and Lady, Monk and Merchant, Devil, Saint, and Thief
Stories moral and
immoral from the Late Middle Ages
translated, with comments,
by Lee Stavenhagen
THE MAGIC BELT
Countess trades virtue for magic armor, but husband, a knight dishonored, abandons her. As transvestite tournament hero she inveigles him, incognito, with shocking man-to-man proposition, exposing his honor as sham and redesigning their marriage for more equality.
THE THREE MONKS OF COLMAR
Lascivious friars boiled.
THE TWO MERCHANTS
Young climber bets extravagantly on wife's virtue.
Cynical innkeeper importunes. Compliant maid connives.
The showdown is spectacular.
THE JUDGE AND THE DEVIL
A magistrate arrogant and corrupt
meets his match, to the letter of the law.
Stalwart but ambitious vicar invents the infamous and
evergreen pact with the Devil. Retaining the Virgin
herself for the defense, he rescues his soul,
and needs naught else.
ST. MARTIN'S FEAST
Farmer with friends celebrates patron saint of wine. Finds thief at work
in barn. Thief impersonates saint, now as protector of flocks. Farmer's
holy ecstasy ends badly.
THE STEADFAST KNIGHT
Valor of old, out of fashion and too expensive, still wins
fair maid and fortune, complete with miracle, on credit.
THE MEAN FARMER
Clever feminine disguise and enticements
to reform wasted on misogyno-uxorious rustic.
THE GREAT VIENNESE PILGRIMAGE
Town's leading citizens and champion drinkers turn
magnificent binge into holy crusade, and vice versa.
Top procuress baits vain hussy with lordly yet lust-prone
churchman, but accidentally snares the equally fallible
husband. Wise maid saves victims from themselves.
THE TOURNAMENT OF LADIES
Bored chattels of valor, the girls try it
themselves, with almost surprising results.
A LADY'S FAITHFULNESS
Highminded perversions, exhibitionism, passion,
gore, nudity. Chivalry goes to the soap opera.
THE BEAUTY SECRET
A girl and her cunt, parted, find that neither can go it alone.
The author prescribes a wise remedy to please all.
By now the damage reports are in and we know that a whole generation of students have had literature killed for them by the way they have been obliged to study it. Instead of the books, they have had to study theories about the books, always on the assumption that the theorists are wiser than the authors. And finally scholasticism, as always, has reduced itself to absurdity, with the discovery by the theorists that there were no authors. There weren’t even any books, only texts, and there wasn’t any history for the texts to emerge from, because history was just a set of signs, too (As of This Writing, 2003, p. 324).So there weren’t supposed to be any more readers, either. Just professors. Some years ago I quit professoring and became a reader again, like you. Well, I don't know, maybe you're a professor, but anyway L&L is now getting several thousand hits per month. So there are still some of us readers, and no matter what you may have heard, the books are still there. Let me know what you think: stavenhagen at stavenhagen.net.
© 2000, 2004 Lee Stavenhagen