Fleas, Flies, and Friars: Children's Poetry from the Middle Ages (Paperback)Nicholas Orme (author)
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Medieval children lived in a world rich in poetry, from lullabies, nursery rhymes, and songs to riddles, tongue twisters, and nonsensical verses. They read or listened to stories in verse: ballads of Robin Hood, romances, and comic tales. Poems were composed to teach them how to behave, eat at meals, hunt game, and even learn Latin and French. In Fleas, Flies, and Friars, Nicholas Orme, an expert on childhood in the Middle Ages, has gathered a wide variety of children's verse that circulated in England beginning in the 1400s, providing a way for modern readers of all ages to experience the medieval world through the eyes of its children.
In his delightful treasury of medieval children's verse, Orme does a masterful job of recovering a lively and largely unknown tradition, preserving the playfulness of the originals while clearly explaining their meaning, significance, or context. Poems written in Latin or French have been translated into English, and Middle English has been modernized. Fleas, Flies, and Friars has five parts. The first two contain short lyrical pieces and fragments, together with excerpts from essays in verse that address childhood or were written for children. The third part presents poems for young people about behavior. The fourth contains three long stories and the fifth brings together verse relating to education and school life.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 120
Weight: 113 g
Dimensions: 203 x 127 x 7 mm
"[Nicholas Orme] has provided a new impetus for studying the worlds of medieval children and has helped challenge the consensus...that 'childhood' itself was an invention of modernity.... This is a charming assembly of texts."-- Seth Lerer * Speculum *
"Fleas, Flies, and Friars is marked by Nicholas Orme's straightforward commentary, the quality of the translations, the method of their organization, and the guides to further reading and notes at the end of the manuscript. The very oddity of the texts is compelling to a modern reader, since they work against any sentimental assessment of medieval childhood. From the perspective of these texts, medieval childhood seems very much like a preparation for medieval adulthood; children were fully aware of the harshness of daily reality, of the duties and strengths required in daily life."-- Lynn Staley, Colgate University, author of Languages of Power in the Age of Richard II
"Nicholas Orme's selections are interesting and wide-ranging and demonstrate the sense of play that he associates with childhood in the period. Fleas, Flies, and Friars has a kind of charm that will appeal to nonacademic readers as well as students and teachers. The translations are excellent and readable. They are also remarkably joyful. Orme's enthusiasm for the sounds of the poems is wonderful and will appeal to all readers who like nursery rhymes."-- Rebecca Krug, University of Minnesota, author of Reading Families
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