The Good Wife's Guide (Le Menagier de Paris)

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Overview

In the closing years of the fourteenth century, an anonymous French writer compiled a book addressed to a fifteen-year-old bride, narrated in the voice of her husband, a wealthy, aging Parisian. The book was designed to teach this young wife the moral attributes, duties, and conduct befitting a woman of her station in society, in the almost certain event of her widowhood and subsequent remarriage. The work also provides a rich assembly of practical materials for the wife's use and for her household, including treatises on gardening and shopping, tips on choosing servants, directions on the medical care of horses and the training of hawks, plus menus for elaborate feasts, and more than 380 recipes.

The Good Wife's Guide is the first complete modern English translation of this important medieval text also known as Le Ménagier de Paris (the Parisian household book), a work long recognized for its unique insights into the domestic life of the bourgeoisie during the later Middle Ages. The Good Wife's Guide, expertly rendered into modern English by Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose, is accompanied by an informative critical introduction setting the work in its proper medieval context as a conduct manual. This edition presents the book in its entirety, as it must have existed for its earliest readers.

The Guide is now a treasure for the classroom, appealing to anyone studying medieval literature or history or considering the complex lives of medieval women. It illuminates the milieu and composition process of medieval authors and will in turn fascinate cooking or horticulture enthusiasts. The work illustrates how a (perhaps fictional) Parisian householder of the late fourteenth century might well have trained his wife so that her behavior could reflect honorably on him and enhance his reputation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A cookbook section contains over 350 recipes, and if many of them are taken from authorities such as the royal chef Taillevent, the author is quite opinionated about what works and what doesn't; he improves some recipes and offers others that seem to be his own. No man before or since has known more about running an affluent household, from keeping vermin out of linen to shopping in the market to caring for hunting hawks. The work has a peculiar tone, bossy yet tender, even elegiac. In their introduction the translators emphasize the husband's firm desire to subordinate his wife, but acknowledge that they found the book more appealing than they had originally expected."—Paul Freedman, Times Literary Supplement, 29 May 2009

"This new—and first complete—English translation of the Ménagier de Paris makes available to a broad audience one of the key texts for our understanding of late medieval mentalities. Its lively language, excellent introduction, and copious notes make this guide to good living in every sense (from moral instruction to recipes for delicious meals) useful to students, scholars, and anyone interested in medieval culture."—Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, University of Pittsburgh

"Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose bring to The Good Wife's Guide well-translated and dignified prose, intelligent commentary, and up-to-date scholarship. They have done a service to all those who teach medieval literature, women's literature, gender studies, and late medieval culture by having gracefully and carefully prepared a text of such significance and interest."—Lynn Staley, Harrington and Shirley Drake Professor of the Humanities and Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the Department of English, Colgate University

"In a new, highly readable, and lively translation of an important medieval document, Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose have done a wonderful job of maintaining the integrity of the original text while rendering it into colloquial English. As a result, The Good Wife's Guide is eminently teachable. It is a cultural artifact in its own right, one that compiles a wide range of very different kinds of material, from moral exhortations to stories to practical instructions on household topics such as gardening and hawking to recipes-all brought together for a very specific purpose. It offers great insight into how both medieval books and households were put together."—Laurie A. Finke, Kenyon College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801474743
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction. Maid to Order: The Good Wife of Paris
The Book: Backgrounds, Narrator, Genre, Sources
Contexts: Conduct Books and Household Books
Glossing the Tale of Griselda: The Model Wife and Marriage in Le Ménagier de Paris
Translation Protocols

The Good Wife's Guide: The English Text of Le Ménagier de Paris
Prologue
Introductory Note to Articles 1.1-1.3
Prayers and Orderly Dress (1.1)
Behavior and Attire in Public (1.2)
The Mass, Confession, the Vices and Virtues (1.3)
On Chastity (1.4)
Devotion to Your Husband (1.5)
Obedience (including the Story of Griselda) (1.6)
The Care of the Husband's Person (1.7)
The Husband's Secrets (1.8)
Introductory Note to Article 1.9
Providing Your Husband with Good Counsel (including the Story of Melibee) (1.9)
Introductory Note to Article 2.1
Le Chemin de povreté et de richesse (2.1)
Horticulture (2.2) 2
Choosing and Caring for Servants and Horses (2.3)
Introductory Note to Article 3.2
Hawking Treatise (3.2)
Menus (2.4)
Recipes (2.5)

Glossary of Culinary Terms
Bibliography
Index

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