Rediscovering a Medieval Gem: Aucassin & Nicolette through Housman and Woodroffe's Artistry


A Timeless Love Story Reimagined 

In the enchanting world of antique books, few tales have captured the imagination quite like "Aucassin and Nicolette." This 12th-century "chantefable" (a unique genre combining prose and verse) from France is not only a significant piece of medieval literature but also a timeless love story. At MFLIBRA Antique Books, we have the privilege of showcasing a remarkable edition of this classic: "Of Aucassin and Nicolette: A translation in prose and verse from the old French together with Amabel and Amoris," translated by Laurence Housman with engravings from drawings by Paul Woodroffe.

Laurence Housman's Mastery

Laurence Housman, an English playwright, writer, and illustrator, is renowned for his contributions to literature. In this edition, his translation of "Aucassin and Nicolette" stands out for its fluidity and faithfulness to the original text. Housman's skill in capturing the essence of medieval French while making it accessible to contemporary readers is commendable. His translation is both poetic and playful, reflecting the unique structure of the chantefable.

The Visual Splendor of Paul Woodroffe

Complementing Housman's prose is the artistic genius of Paul Woodroffe, whose engravings bring the story to life. Woodroffe, known for his work in book illustration and stained glass, infuses each page with a sense of romanticism and medieval allure. His illustrations are not mere decorations; they are integral to the experience of the story, encapsulating the emotions and setting of this captivating tale.

A Broader Look at Aucassin & Nicolette

Beyond this specific edition, "Aucassin and Nicolette" holds a special place in the canon of medieval literature. It's a story that transcends its time, telling the tale of the forbidden love between Aucassin, a nobleman's son, and Nicolette, a Saracen slave girl. Their love defies social conventions, religious barriers, and even adventurous escapades, making it a precursor to later romantic works.

The chantefable format, unique to this story, blends prose narrative with segments of verse, which were likely sung when originally performed. This blend of storytelling techniques makes "Aucassin and Nicolette" not only an important literary work but also a fascinating study in the evolution of narrative forms.

Why It Matters Today

In our current age, where cultural and social boundaries continue to be topics of intense discussion, the story of Aucassin and Nicolette resonates profoundly. It's a testament to the enduring power of love over the divisive forces of society. The book, particularly in its lavishly illustrated editions like the one translated by Housman and illustrated by Woodroffe, serves as a bridge connecting modern audiences to the rich tapestry of medieval literature.

In Conclusion

"At MFLIBRA Antique Books, we are proud to present this exquisite edition of 'Of Aucassin and Nicolette.' Whether you're a collector, a lover of medieval literature, or someone who appreciates the artistry of beautifully crafted books, this edition is a treasure worth exploring. Dive into its pages and let yourself be transported to a world where love knows no bounds, and artistry immortalizes emotion."

Your MFLIBRA Antique Books Team.

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