Nigel of Longchamp's <i>Speculum stultorum</i>

Jill Mann

in From Aesop to Reynard

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199217687
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712371 | DOI:
Nigel of Longchamp's Speculum stultorum

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Moving from beast fable to beast epic, this chapter discusses the Speculum stultorum (late twelfth century), written by Nigel of Longchamp, a monk of Canterbury, and dedicated to William of Longchamp, the chancellor of Richard I. The narrative kernel of this poem, which relates how the foolish attempts of the donkey Burnellus to acquire a longer tail lead only to disaster, resembles those beast fables in which animals vainly try to exceed the bounds set for them by Nature. But the lengthy rhetorical elaborations and narrative interpolations which swell the poem to epic length also turn it into a comic celebration of the sheer redundancy of human language. These elaborations also give room for satiric passages which reflect the contemporary concerns of the Canterbury monks, in which William of Longchamp was also involved.

Keywords: Nigel of Longchamp; Speculum stultorum; Canterbury; beast epic; Burnellus; monastic orders

Chapter.  28705 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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