Among the more interesting incunabula preserved in the Salle de la Réserve of the Bibliothèque National in Paris are the apparently unique copies of two editions, very similar in content, of a work entitled Les Adevineaux amoureux. In much more comprehensive form Les Adevineaux amoureux is preserved in a manuscript belonging to the Musée Conde at Chantilly. All three texts, in medieval French, appear to date from the 1470s. The present work, Amorous Games, is a critical edition of Les Adevineaux amoureux.
Amorous Games is a miscellany whose principal unifying force is the compiler's aim to provide a manual of conversation and entertainment for polite society. Included are series of questions and answers belonging to the well-established medieval tradition of the "Demandes amoureuses"; a very large number of riddles, mainly folk riddles; and "venditions en amours," little poems that apparently came into bing as part of a social game.
Students of medieval French literature, particularly those with a penchant for some of the minor genres, will find new material in the Amorous Games. Folklorists will discover what is probably the largest collection of riddles bequeathed to us by medieval France and also much that is of value to specialists in the proverb and folk tale.
For this critical edition of Les Adevineaux amoureux Professor Hassell has selected the Chantilly manuscript, because it is the most complete and also because it had not yet been published. The Appendix contains the text of the more complete of the two incunabula and the significant variants appearing in the other fifteenth-century printed edition. The manuscript text has been collated with that of the incunabula, and copious notes and an index to the riddles have been supplied. In his introduction Professor Hassell discusses in detail the major classes and subclasses of the riddle, drawing on the work of Petsch, Taylor, Abrahams, and other scholars of the genre.