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Arthurian Romances (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
On the other hand, if you are a casual reader interested in getting to the sources of the King Arthur stories, you may find Chretien rather disappointing.
For modern tastes, there is far too much narrative here and not enough characterisation or description. Chretien also has the habit of interrupting his denouements with apparently irrelevant observations on the nature of courtly love.
Clearly, Chretien's audience had very different expectations from most modern readers. If you want to enjoy the Arthurian Romances, it's worth trying to get into the mind of the original readers.
You need to remember that although today we see Arthur as escapist legend, in Chretien's time the 'matter of Britain' was a legitimate subject for an intellectual engaging other intellectuals.
Equally, looking back through the eyes of Tennyson (if not Hollywood), we tend to see Arthur as a romantic ideal. This assessment is further clouded by the title of this translation. The word 'Romance' here really means 'Novel', rather than something concerned with romantic love. The idea of love in Chretien is the idea set out in Andreas Capellanus 'the Art of Courtly Love', not that of 'Idylls of the King'.
Finally, the complex of social castes in Chretien was not something exotic or ancient to the original readers. There are layers of meaning which would have be obvious to his audience but which are concealed from us.Read more ›
Marital love is ever an important theme in Chretien. In Erec and Enide, the hero neglects his knightly reputation in order to devote himself to his new bride, and in Yvain the hero does the opposite and neglects his bride for valour. Both must set off on a series of adventures that culminate in them seeing the error of their ways and setting matters right.
Lancelot is an excellent story, though rather odd in that the theme this time is an adulterous relationship, that of Lancelot and Guinevere. Nowhere does Chretien condemn this relationship, despite negative references elsewhere to the shameful adulterous love between Tristan and Iseult. In Kibler's introduction he suggests that the theme may have been suggested by Chretien's patroness. Perhaps, then, Chretien was anxious not to offend the French Court. At any rate, he didn't bother to finish the romance and gave it to someone else to do (the ending is included in this book).
In Perceval Chretien masterfully captures the naivete of the young hero, and he delivers the most mysterious, powerful and influential Arthur story of all. Here we see the holy grail, the bleeding lance and the castle of maidens, all of which have become essential ingredients in Arthurian lore. It's unfinished state presented an irresistible challenge to later poets, some of whom tried to finish it off, others who went back to the beginning and offered their own interpretations.Read more ›
Chrétien's major works include four poems included in this collection: Erec and Enide, Cligés, The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot), and The Knight of the Lion (Yvain). For Grail seekers, the story of most interest will be the unfinished Perceval: The Story of the Grail. Although the tale exists in finished form (in fact, several variations of finished forms), de Troyes in fact only wrote the first 9000 lines of the approximately 32,000 line text. (De Troyes also was embellished or supplemented by later additions to the tale of Lancelot, perhaps because de Troyes did not want to include an adulterous affair).
The story of Erec and Enide is a love story between one of Arthur's knights, Erec, who while out with Guinevere encounters a mean-spirited knight Yder; Erec's pursuit of Yder leads to his meeting Enide, and the two have a stormy relationship (by medieval romantic standards) but ultimately are able to reconcile their love and relationship with public duty.
The story of Cligés is one of tricky and forbidden relationships. Cligés, a native of Greece, falls in love with Fenice, his uncle's wife (Cligés' uncle happens to be the emperor). Their love is discovered, but with the aid of King Arthur, their relationship continues in Cligés' home country of Greece.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you have time - and if you're about to read this book you must have it to burn - please indulge me in my offer of an introduction to Chrétien de Troyes as an alternative... Read morePublished on 26 Mar. 2012 by therealus
The stories in this book were written in the 1100s and are a translation from French. There are five stories altogether and some are better than others. Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2010 by Faye
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