November 11, 2020
We begin the second day of stories in the lovely, green meadow at Sarrance with a brief and amusing tale told by Nomerfide, the youngest of our storytellers. It is, as Oisille puts it, “a rather dirty story”!
In it, a Madame de Roncex, finding herself “stuck as if by glue” to the seat of a privy at a Franciscan monastery (the Franciscans’ second appearance in the Heptameron), with the monks’ excrement all over her buttocks, clothing, and feet, cries out to a girl for help—only to have the girl, knowing the Franciscans’ reputation for sexual promiscuity, assume they are trying to rape Madame de Roncex. The girl thus brings a whole crowd to rescue the lady, who is humiliated when she finds herself exposed to all with “filth stuck to [her] behind.” In the end, though, realizing what the girl was trying to save her from, even Madame de Roncex has a good laugh, as do our storytellers.
2 thoughts on “Story 11”
The prologue of the second day tells us that the storytellers offer “their hearts and minds to God that he might inspire their words and grant His grace to continue their gathering”. When Parlamente selects Nomerfide to speak, she subtly recalls her narrative of Floride’s sufferings and Oisille’s haunting tale of the mule-driver’s wife. She then encourages Nomerfide to avoid making them cry. Given the reference to divine inspiration and grace for their storytelling venture, the reader might expect a more solemn tale. But after the tears and traumas of the First Day, Nomerfide’s story is valuable in that it brings much-needed comic relief. The storytellers all “burst into peals of laughter” and share a rare moment of unity that dispels tensions.
Yes, as you say, Leanna, everyone ends up laughing here: the characters, including Madame Roncex herself, the storytellers, and the readers. This very Rabelaisian scatological comic never fails to transcend all sorts of differences. Yet, this particular brand of comic is not aristocratic: it is deeply ironic toward the upper classes of the feudal system, and spans in France from the medieval fabliau to the seventeenth century comic novel with such writers as Charles Sorel and Paul Scarron. Again, Marguerite does a great job of staging this unbearable situation to create a crescendo in the comic due to a series of misunderstandings, so that at the end, our laughter is uncontrollable.