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Chrétien de Troyes in Prose: the Burgundian 'Erec' and 'Cligés'

Chrétien de Troyes in Prose: the Burgundian 'Erec' and 'Cligés'

Joan Tasker Grimbert
Carol J. Chase
Volume: 78
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Chrétien de Troyes in Prose: the Burgundian 'Erec' and 'Cligés'
    Book Description:

    In the middle of the fifteenth century two anonymous writers "translated" into prose Chrétien de Troyes's first verse romances, ‘Erec’ and ‘Cligés’ (dating from the twelfth century), for the circle of Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. For a long time unfairly dismissed as trite and slavish renderings of Chrétien's masterful narratives, the prose ‘Erec’ and ‘Cligés’ actually merit careful study in their own right, for these Middle French reworkings adapt the earlier romances to fit the interests of the fifteenth-century public. The authors updated not only the language but also the descriptions of chivalric exploits, tourneys, and siege warfare; furthermore, they showed real ingenuity in the way they modified the story line, clarifying motivation, rescripting characters, and shortening many of the descriptions. The romances offer valuable insights into the evolution of Arthurian romance, the history of reception of Chrétien's work, and the mentality and culture of one of the most remarkable courts to flourish in the late middle ages. This volume presents the first English prose translations of the writings, accompanied by an introduction presenting the historical, cultural, and literary context, and notes. Joan Tasker Grimbert is Professor of French at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.; Carol J. Chase is Professor Emerita of French at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-685-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    JTG and CJC
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the late twelfth century, Chrétien de Troyes composed several Arthurian romances of such quality and influence that he is considered the creator of that genre: Erec et Enide, Cligés, Le Chevalier de la charrrette (Lancelot), Le Chevalier au lion (Yvain), and Le Conte du Graal (Le Roman de Perceval).¹ Like most writers of this period, Chrétien composed his romances in verse; his last work, Le Conte du Graal, which breaks off in the middle of an episode, was provided with four verse continuations, all of which date to the thirteenth century and were designed to bring closure to the...

  5. Translators’ Notes
    (pp. 19-22)
    JTG and CJC

    Our goal in translating these two romances has been to provide an attractive and readable text that conveys as much as possible the flavor of the original. We have therefore retained most of the traits that are part of their alterity, all of which are common to medieval narrative. In the manuscripts, sentences tend to ‘run on’. Each moment of the narrative is linked in various ways: by connectors such as ‘and’, ‘then’, ‘upon hearing that’, ‘at that moment’, or by repeating an action: ‘he grabbed his sword’ is often followed by ‘once it is seized …’ While we have...

  6. Erec (The Story of Erec, Son of King Lac)
    (pp. 23-74)

    [p. 101] It is possible to profit greatly in various ways through the constant practice of the telling of stories containing the deeds of nobles who lived long ago. Because I have been presented with the rhymed story¹ of Erec, the son of King Lac, I shall, God willing, devote a little time to transposing it from verse into prose in the way that follows below; and I pray those who will read it to excuse my rough style.

    [p. 103] 1.Here follows the story of the noble and valorous knight Erec, and this first chapter recounts how King Arthur...

    (pp. 75-144)

    [p. 65] However unworthy I am to apply my feeble intelligence to the current fashion of transposing the deeds of some nobles of old from verse to prose, nevertheless, knowing that my contemporaries are turning willingly to the good practice of reading and listening to romances and histories instead of indulging in pastimes, I shall venture to transpose the present account. Although I know my talent is insufficient to the task, I shall do this nonetheless in order to avoid sloth and in obedience to my most lofty and feared prince, praying that he and all others will excuse my...

  8. Glossary of Medieval Terms
    (pp. 145-148)
  9. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 149-154)
  10. Index
    (pp. 155-158)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 159-167)