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Tales From Gallia

Western Europe



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This volume, Tales From Gallia covers stories originating in France. French, or Gallic, folklore encompasses the fables, folklore, fairy tales and legends of the French speaking people and their ancestors.

Traditions of storytelling have a long and distinguished history, and in the Gallic tradition we can date back at least as far as Occitan literature in the Middle Ages. Occitan examples often include songs, poetry and literature from the South of France from the 11th and 12th centuries, much of which inspired vernacular literature throughout medieval Europe.

These early recorded songs and poetry reached their highest development in the 12th century and included the well-known Songs of the Troubadours. The songs, poetry and narratives of the troubadours, who were composers and performers travelling across the European continent during the High Middle Ages, flourished from the 11th century and spread throughout Europe from Southern France. Their songs dealt mainly with themes of chivalry and courtly love.

Songs of the Trouvère are songs and poetry that stemmed from poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France.

A second form of legend in France during the Middle Ages was epic poetry, partly historical and partly legend with themes covering the formation of France, war, kingship, and important battles. This genre was known as chansons de geste which is Old French for "songs of heroic deeds." Pieces in this oeuvre are also often referred to as the epics of the Matter of France. Chanson de geste or Matter of France works were part history and part legendary heroic epic tales of Charlemagne and the history and founding of France by the Franks.

Another folkloric medium in the Middle Ages were fables, mock epics and animal folk tales, notably tales such as Reynard Le Roman de Renart by Perrout de Saint Cloude from the late eighteenth century.

French fairy tales are particularly known by their literary rather than their folk, oral variants. Charles Perrault derived almost all his tales from folk sources, but rewrote them for an upper-class audience, removing some of the more rustic elements.

In this collection we have tales collected by Andrew Lang, Charles Perrault, Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Comtesse de Sophie Ségur, Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy, Katharine Pyle and Edmund Dulac, some of the finest collectors working from the seventeenth century onwards.

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