November 20, 2020
Today, Saffredent tells us about a long-suffering gentleman who loves a respectable widow who claims to be honorable and virtuous but whom he finds in the arms of her stableboy—a sight that cures the gentleman instantly of his love. Saffredent’s listeners are appalled by the woman’s actions, and their comments bear witness to expectations of rank that are unquestioned in the Heptameron. Even Oisille expresses her astonishment that a woman would “leave an upright gentleman for a vulgar stable-boy!” Once again, doubt arises about the stories’ value as models. Longarine insists, “Just because something like that happens to some miserable wretch of a woman, there’s no reason to go round suspecting all women of the same thing.”
As Nicolas Russell points out in his introduction to the second day, we find out at the end of the day that the monks of the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sarrance, where our group is gathered, have been “hiding in a ditch behind a thick hedge, flat on their bellies” listening to the tales. The monks almost miss vespers and, even then, chant out of tune! Such is the value of a good story!
The church and monastery of Notre Dame de Sarrance, founded in the fourteenth century, remain a site of pilgrimage today. Here’s a view of the cloister—where the monks were, of course, not spending their days since they had better entertainment in the nearby meadow!
One thought on “Story 20”
Another theme with a long tradition, that turns misogynist when applied to women in general. The Platonic association of physical beauty with high morals and of lack of beauty with low morals hides or is added to class prejudice: only the nobility can have both kinds of beauty. In story 5 though, it seems that Marguerite attempts to show that the resourceful batelière is not an exception to the rule, which would only confirm it, but an extension of God’s grace to all kinds of people regardless of their social rank.
A fascinating object in this tale is the “touret de nez” that Parlemente puts on at the end upon entering the church, because its description corresponds to a Covid-19 mask! Not to mention that this face covering also reminds us of a Muslim niqab, which men do not put on…