The Women’s Framed-Novelle: The French Tradition

  • Josephine Donovan


The framed-novelle was the dominant genre in prose fiction in the late medieval to early modern period, until it was superceded by the novel. It is an assemblage of short tales that are linked by a frame narrative, usually that of the social interaction among the story tellers. The best known example is probably Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353). Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (ca. 1387–1400) uses the frame format but the inset tales are in verse and therefore are not novellas, which are in prose. Like the early novel, the framed-novelle was “a literary genre without status, often alleged to be written for women and thus not to be taken seriously.”1


Frame Format Early Modern Period Woman Writer Literary Genre Feminist Standpoint 
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© Josephine Donovan 1999

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  • Josephine Donovan

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