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The carnivalesque banquet of Béroalde de Verville

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Title: The carnivalesque banquet of Béroalde de Verville
Author: Fleming, Jean Puleston
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program French
Copyright Date: 1975
Abstract: Le Moen de Parvenir, one of the last works of Béroalde de Verville, a late XVIth century poet and prose writer, consists entirely of a lively and disconnected banquet conversation interwoven with an author/narrator's commentaries and asides to the reader. Through both its form and its content the book creates an atmosphere of profound disorder and of mocking irreverence. The resulting difficulty and apparent frivolity of the work have caused it to be disregarded by many critics. This study seeks to examine Le Moyen de Parvenir from a new perspective, using the elements of disorder and irreverence to discover the unity and purpose behind Béroalde's unusual presentation. To this end it is noted that the same disturbing elements also dominate a social phenomenon of the time: the popular festival. Archetypal festivals such as Carnival and the Feast of Fools, as well as the related fool-societies reveal a festive tradition which is characterized by special liberties and attitudes. These festive privileges include free speech, blatant sensuality, gratuitous actions, and mocking irreverence, all of which combine to create a traditional representation of chaos. Closer examination reveals that Béroalde's literary work and the social phenomenon have much in common. Both contain abundant feasting, wine and laughter in an uninhibited atmosphere. The disruption of everyday time and space, the confusion of identities, and the ambivalently mocking attitude present in the festival appear in several aspects of the text. These include the world created by the author, the relationship between the author and his reader, and the act of composition itself. Béroalde's characters also exploit the festive privilege of sacrilege, turning everyday objects of worship and respect upside-down and ridiculing them. They also use ridicule and laughter to overturn another mainstay of society, the social hierarchy. All members of society are made to display their particular follies. The guiding morality is physical pleasure, and the banqueters sharply condemn those who dc net, or who cannot, join in the spirit of celebration. In place of rigidity and repression Béroalde proposes a world of laughter and freedom. The festive elasticity of both the social and the literary frameworks created in his text demonstrate this proposal. The carnivalesque perspective also gives new meaning to the title of the book. Béroalde is shown to provide not enly a "moyen de parvenir" for the individual, but for the society as a whole, and even for the reader. Just as the festive occasion alters the everyday environment and permits the individual to release tensions which are usually held in check by reason or by social restrictions, so the atmosphere created in the book provides a similar opportunity for both characters and reader. Through recognition and acceptance of the irrational, emotional side of human nature, Bercalde demonstrates an understanding of the social purpose of festive disorder and its positive contribution to the health of the whole society. While Béroalde the artist uses the festive tradition to represent an aspect of life around him, Béroalde the humanist uses the same tradition to express his discoveries on human nature and on the nature of society. Thus through the medium of a carnivalesque banquet, the promise of the title is fulfilled, and the voice of a tolerant and conservative observer of the human comedy unveils his "secret" in Le Moyen de Parvenir.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/19628
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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