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The Romance of Tristan: The Tale of Tristan's Madness (Classics) Paperback – 27 Apr 1978


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The Romance of Tristan: The Tale of Tristan's Madness (Classics) + The Death of King Arthur (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Impression edition (27 April 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442304
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Once upon a time, King Mark reigned over Cornwall. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on 15 Aug 2004
Format: Paperback
It is usually the case that within a page or two of reading an introduction, the reader knows whether or not they are in the hands of a reliable editor and translator. Alan Fedrick inspires such confidence. His is a scholarly, readable prose translation, adequately but not overwhelmingly annotated. Beroul's account of the Tristan and Yseult legend (in others, the lovers' names appear variously as Tristram, Isolde, Iseut, etc.) is the oldest extant version, although it now exists only in fragmentary form. Its fascination lies partly in that it belongs to an older form of storytelling, with quite different conventions from modern forms. So be prepared for characters dying more than once, events occurring out of sequence, and plenty of unapologetic author intervention. Some of the plot elements are wonderful, and have been borrowed and reworked ever since, by Shakespeare and others. Some have become interwoven with the Arthurian cycle. Read this if you are interested in seeing how the art of fiction has evolved in Europe through the ages, or if you enjoy fables that have a folksy (and sometimes vulgar) flavour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
Beroul's version of Tristan and Yesult is one of the earlist extant versions available. The story itself even so is a fragment, and with Alan S Fedrick's translation with have a beginning and ending supplied. Also here is provided a short piece called, 'Tristan's Madness'.

In todays modern world of storytelling this seems a bit clumsy, and indeed it would be better to be heard than to read this tale. It is full of contradictions and Beroul loves to get his word in every now and then. To modern readers this is also quite funny. Tristan and Yseult mistakenly drink a love potion that makes them fall into each other's arms, although Yseult is to be betrothed to the Cornish king, Mark. Those who tell King Mark of his wife's infidelity are accused by the author of being evil, but with the best will in the world, Mark is obviously being cuckolded. Even before the love potion is drunk it is obvious that Tristan and Yseult are in love, and when it wears off they are still in love.

With adventure and passion this is well worth a read if you are into medieval writings, otherwise you may wish to give this a miss. With a detailed introduction by Alan S Fedrick there is more than enough to get your teeth into here. This is an old tale that has appeared in many versions over the centuries, and is loved by a lot of people, but don't expect something in the style of how tales are written today.

Personally I loved this book, seeing in it a lot of comedy, but whether that was ever the original intention, who knows? If you want to read something different then this is well worth a go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By trysca on 12 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback
Okay its written by Beroul, but noone knows exactly who he was and he appears to have spent some time in the old country - could have been Breton, Norman or Cornish, now no way of knowing. This version describes a forgotten kingdom lost to the passage of time; the forest of Morrois (Bodmin or Dartmoor?), the island of St Samson (St Michaels,St Nicholas or Looe?), Croiz Rouge (Carn Brea / Redruth?) Not surprising this became a classic of western literature, but this version comes from the 'vulgar' tradition so is probably most authentic to the real oral tradition.
It is a beautifully vivid and humane story with some hauntingly erotic scenes that can still make a modern man weep - sunlight falls from Mark's bare-chested grasp upon the sleeping face of Yseult ; his nephew sleeps innocent upon the grass; his naked blade thrust between them [ who needs Game of Thrones...?!]
the deep theme of true love is rather philosophical - we are left questioning throughout whether it is a madness affliction or a drug-induced delusion - when the spell wears off, these two 'lovers' seem to be mechanically clanking together in a state of deep confusion.
The Germanic, chivalric versions are stolid, macho, puritanical and artificial by comparison with the original born of the physical mystery of mind and body; Beroul feels more like Chaucer or Shakespeare, with the bardic magic of Mabinogyon, high and low art woven with insightful ambiguity into real human experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CAROL MCGRATH on 10 Aug 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Simply this is a brilliant translation. The notes are helpful and the sections of the story clear. The feeling of the original remains. I loved it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Folksy and Fabulous 15 Aug 2004
By Peter Reeve - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is usually the case that within a page or two of reading an introduction, the reader knows whether or not they are in the hands of a reliable editor and translator. Alan Fedrick inspires such confidence. His is a scholarly, readable prose translation, adequately but not overwhelmingly annotated. Beroul's account of the Tristan and Yseult legend (in others, the lovers' names appear variously as Tristram, Isolde, Iseut, etc.) is the oldest extant version, although it now exists only in fragmentary form. Its fascination lies partly in that it belongs to an older form of storytelling, with quite different conventions from modern forms. So be prepared for characters dying more than once, events occurring out of sequence, and plenty of unapologetic author intervention. Some of the plot elements are wonderful, and have been borrowed and reworked ever since, by Shakespeare and others. Some have become interwoven with the Arthurian cycle. Read this if you are interested in seeing how the art of fiction has evolved in Europe through the ages, or if you enjoy fables that have a folksy (and sometimes vulgar) flavor.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Classic Legend in its Original form 13 Sep 2000
By Joshua Wise - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Though the story of Tristan and Iseult predates even this particular telling of the story, it is the earliest extant version we have, and it suffers not at all from its age. Full of love, battle, humor (and there are some great points of humor in the book), and a visit from Aruthur's knights, this is a classic tale of romance and betrayal. Any fan of Arthurian myth should read this timeless tale that has inspired so many to write books, music, and poetry. Even before there was the story of Romeo and Juliet, there was this story of star crossed lovers.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Enchantment. 6 Nov 2001
By Tom LePen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Romance of Tristan is a great read. Takes you back to the 11th and 12th Centuries and describes a somewhat tragic love affair between Tristan and the King's wife, Yseut(Isolde). The King is Tristan's uncle, and Tristan is a great knight in King Mark's court, so this adds to the story's impact. Tristan and Yseut are fatalistic lovers, drawn to each other by a 'love potion', and constantly plotting their meetings even under serious auspices of the King and his courtiers. The plots and tales and protocols of that time in history are vividly described and Beroul uses many characters to paint the tale. It appears that Beroul is largely sympathetic to the fugitive lovers and his bias is clearly against the ones who try to harm or plot against them.
I would recommend reading the introduction of this book for some good insight from the translator and for his insights into the original 12th century text. This translation makes for a fast and captivating read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
a delightful little read 30 Oct 2003
By Ray Wang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From the publisher Penguin comes a translation of the Romance of Tristan by Beroul that seems to be aimed at the general population. The translator, Alan. S. Federick, sought to "strike a balance between a version which is readable in Modern English prose and one which is still recognizably Beroul's poem." While not a definitive edition or completely accurate to the original text, it is a version that the general audience will find delightful to read. The introduction provides a setting for the book, and fills in details that many who are not familiar with medieval literature would find helpful. The analysis within the introduction also provides an added dimension so that the reader would be able to fully appreciate the text with minor guidance. The summary of earlier episodes of the story also lessens the confusion often associated with reading a medieval text.
The style of the translation is conducive to smooth reading and avoid copious footnotes that often lead to reader frustration. The division of chapters with informative titles also makes the text enjoyable to read. The story is translated to paragraph form, a refreshing contrast with line by line translation in other versions which seems boring and droll. An translation of a separate tale, the madness of Tristan is also included to make the tale complete. It seems no effort is spared to make the text readable. The difficulty of this text is less than that of a Harry Potter novel.
I would recommend this book to all readers looking for a simple and enjoyable tale of medieval romance. Thanks must be given to god and Penguin publishing for opening up this legendary medieval tale to a wider audience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
a delightful little book 30 Oct 2003
By Ray Wang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From the publisher Penguin comes a translation of the Romance of Tristan by Beroul that seems to be aimed at the general population. The translator, Alan. S. Federick, sought to "strike a balance between a version which is readable in Modern English prose and one which is still recognizably Beroul's poem." While not a definitive edition or completely accurate to the original text, it is a version that the general audience will find delightful to read. The introduction provides a setting for the book, and fills in details that many who are not familiar with medieval literature would find helpful. The analysis within the introduction also provides an added dimension so that the reader would be able to fully appreciate the text with minor guidance. The summary of earlier episodes of the story also lessens the confusion often associated with reading a medieval text.
The style of the translation is conducive to smooth reading and avoid copious footnotes that often lead to reader frustration. The division of chapters with informative titles also makes the text enjoyable to read and structures the story in episodes. The story is translated to paragraph form, a refreshing contrast with line by line translation in other versions which seems boring and droll. An translation of a separate tale, the madness of Tristan is also included to make the tale complete. It seems no effort is spared to make the text readable. The difficulty of this text is less than that of a Harry Potter novel.
I would recommend this book to all readers looking for a simple and enjoyable tale of medieval romance. Thanks must be given to god and Penguin publishing for opening up this legendary medieval tale to a wider audience.
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