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Arthurian Romances

af Chrétien de Troyes

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Serier: Chrétian's Arthurian Romances (Omnibus, 1-5)

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Chretien de Troyes was a French poet in the late 12th century whose work represents some of the best examples of Arthurian legend from medieval times. Contained in this volume are the four complete Arthurian romances that have survived. The first of these stories is that of "Erec and Enide", which recounts the story of Erec, one of King Arthur's knights, and the conflict between love and knighthood he experiences in his marriage to Enide. The second romance is the tale of the knight "Cligès" and his love for his uncle's wife, Fenice. The third romance is that of "Yvain, the Knight of the Lion", in which Yvain seeks to avenge his cousin Calogrenant, who had been defeated by an otherworldly knight. Lastly is the tale of "Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart", which centers on Lancelot's rescue of Guinevere, King Arthur's queen. These classic medieval poems form some of the earliest and most prominent examples of the legend of King Arthur.… (mere)
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Engelsk (13)  Hollandsk (1)  Alle sprog (14)
Viser 1-5 af 14 (næste | vis alle)
The weird world of medieval knights. Behaviour that makes no sense and is never explained. The necessity of fighting everyone. Kings who wander around and appear in the unlikeliest places. Women who make weird requests that don't make sense and whose motivations are never explained. The exision of dead flesh following a fight. Odd stuff. I only read Erec and Enide and after that I felt like I couldn't wade through another 8000 lines of this. ( )
  elahrairah | Jul 28, 2023 |
I first read this book as part of a university course on King Arthur. At that time, I think we read only “The Knight of the Cart” and “The Story of the Grail”, because those two stories, and no others, are festooned with Post-it note flags.

On a re-read, I found myself struck by how odd the storytelling style is. In some strange way it feels like a child is telling the story, because it is filled with superlatives and scenes are often sketchy. “And everyone was so happy to see Gawain, and they ate a magnificent feast filled with so many courses that it would take a learned clerk a whole day to write down all the things they ate, and all the damsels were eager to ensure that he was comfortable, and and and and and…” It felt faintly ridiculous. This may be because I’m so used to the Roger Lancelyn Green retelling, which gives the reader the basics of the story in a more economical (modern?) fashion.

My favourite of the five romances presented here was “The Knight with the Lion”, possibly because Yvain is less familiar to me and so I wasn’t rolling my eyes as much as with Lancelot (“The Knight of the Cart”) and Perceval (“The Story of the Grail”).

Of Lancelot’s and Perceval’s stories, Perceval’s was funnier, especially when he first encounters knights and pesters them with questions about their armour and weapons. Lancelot is a bit ridiculous, especially when he’s trying to fight his opponents behind his back so that he can keep looking at Guinevere. She’s still there, pal—focus on getting the job done!

As for “Erec and Enide”, I got all the way through it, albeit with much eye-rolling at the storytelling style. “Cligés” was the only one I couldn’t finish. It was partway through this one that I realized we hadn’t actually read it in class and I probably didn’t need to read it now.

This edition is useful for its glossary of medieval terms, as well as the visible endnotes that provide more context and explanation. There is also an appendix describing the various continuations of “The Story of the Grail”, which (spoiler alert) doesn’t actually end with anyone recovering the Grail. It is theorized that the author died before he could complete the story. Other authors therefore decided to write sequels.

Overall, my (probably disgruntled and unfair) rating of 2 stars stands. It was okay. It will probably be a very long time before I try reading it again. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 4, 2018 |
I will comment similarly to how I did so with Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain," which bore the first mention of Arthur and first enculturated him into European Myth. Chrétien (with the exception of Gawin the Green Knight) is the next in line for picking up Arthurian legend.

In respect to the discussion I had with Geoffrey's tome, I find it harder to rate or critique books where historical significance takes precedence over enjoyment from reading. However, while Geoffrey wrote Arthur into a history, Chrétien is openly making a fiction (despite less dragons), he even alludes to how he is telling the story for his "lady of champagne." Thus, as a historian, I have the liberty of being less forgiving in critiquing the narrative style of Arthurian Romances in respect to previous tellings of Arthur.

Chrétien de Troyes, as one who is writing in the twelfth century hasn't seemed to have benefited form a post-printing era literary culture. Generally, plot points are connected by "and then"s, rather than using a causality that is already established in the narrative. Furthermore, Chrétien likes to play the "pronoun game." As characters such as Lancelot and Percival don't receive their names well into their respective stories, there are a lot of points where "the knight" has a conversation with "the knight," and thus telling who is who can be quite the adventure.

That said, I must be forgiving, as this is (given proper reading circumstances) fun to read. As opposed to earlier texts, this has the standard and fun Arthurian iconography (knights, damsels, dangerous bridges, etc.) which makes it entertaining to read. In my opinion, Lancelot's story is rather investing. I also must forgive much of the literary shortcomings, given that you are reading a text that is nigh 1000 years old. ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Sep 18, 2017 |
The verse written by 12th century poet Chrétien de Troyes represents the earliest of the Arturian romances as we recognize them today. These poems have been widely popular and have influenced the shape of every King Arthur and his Knights tales that came after. This translation of these five tales puts the verse into prose format.

"Erec and Enide" follows the story of the two title characters, starting with Erec's adventures and eventual winning of Enide's hand, followed by Erec and Enide riding off to wander the land in search of quests together.

"Cligés" is a more meandering tale, which begins with Alexandre of Greece's journey to King Arthur's court in order to win renown, and then his son Cliges' adventures and romance with his uncle's wife.

"The Knight of the Cart" is Lancelot's tale, in which the queen Guinevere is taken away by an evil knight. Lancelot pursues her and fights many adventure in his great love for her. It's an interesting one, because Lancelot is made to look foolish more than once in his love for her.

"The Knight with the Lion" is Yvain's tale and follows a similar format as the other in that a knight goes off to meet a great adventure. Along the way he wins the love of a maiden, who then casts him off when he fails to return when he's told to. He goes temporarily insane and has to fight many adventures before he can win her back.

"The Story of the Grail" is Perceval's quest, though it also includes much of Gawain's adventures. Perceval starts out as an idiotic ass, leaving a wake of damage on his way to becoming a knight. The grail has less of the Christian affiliations in this version and has to do with the Fisher King (not Arthur), who suffers from wounds that will not heal. There's a lance that bleeds from its tip, as well as the grail in association with the Fisher King. This tale was not finished by Troyes, but the translator gives a nice round up of the various continuations written by other poets of the time period, which begin to bring in the more heavy handed Christian elements.

Some random thoughts, in no particular order:
1. The storytelling skill gets better with each subsequent story, which makes me think that "Eric and Enide" was written first and Troyes skill improved with each story he told (though I can't be sure of that). The last three tales are the best in the book, and "The Knight with the Lion" is probably my favorite.

2. There's a lot of redundancy. Characters will say one thing, repeat it in a slightly different order, then repeat it a third time, just to make sure you really know that they mean what they say. Also, the plot lines repeat fairly often and by the end of the book it's easy to tell exactly how each battle will turn out with the knights on equal footing, landing many great blows, and the blood flowing and so on. This repetition can make things kind of tedious.

3. The people in this era apparently believed that a fight could prove guilt or innocence. If you're accused of treason or a crime, welp, facts don't matter as long you have the best knight to fight for you. The winner is proved right, because God would only let the right one win. Uh-huh.

4. People were also rather obsessed with beauty. Beauty = good. Ugliness = evil. All the heroes are the most handsome of knights and draw the eye of every spectator to them. All the good maidens are beautiful and fair.

5. Arthur is kind of a fool. The most obvious demonstration of this is in "Eric and Enide," in which it essentially goes:
Arthur: I want to do this thing, because it would be sooooo coool.
Gawain: That's a very bad idea, because something bad will happen.
Arthur: You're right, but I'm going to do the thing anyway, because I'm the king and the king should do whatever he wants.
*does the thing*
Gawain: I told you if you did the thing something bad would happen.
Arthur: I know. Now tell me how to fix it.

6. Kay is interesting in that he starts out noble and well loved in "Eric and Enide" but gradually becomes more of an ass by the time "The Story of the Grail" rolls around, when he's called evil tongued and rude and worse and yet they still love him. I would have booted him to the curb.

7. As much as maidens and women are almost never given names and act as objects for the knights to win, they also have a surprising amount of autonomy and strength. Women are often found hanging out alone in the woods and it's not uncommon for a girl to take up a horse and ride over hill and dale in search of a knight to help her, essentially having her own form adventure. Many of the women also own their own lands and rule their own castles. However, when women have power over men, their demands tend to be rather arbitrary and often have to do with keep the man by her side. In the end, the demands seem not to be so much about her as they seem to be about setting up an adventure for some guy.

8. Morgan le Fay, sister to Arthur and always a favorite of mine, appears only in passing in these stories. But when she does, she is presented in a positive light, as a powerful healer and known for creating the best tinctures and good potions. Apparently, it's not until later versions that she begins to play the part of the evil traitor.

9. The people are ridiculously prone to emotion. When saddened, they pull their hair, scratch their faces, threatened suicide, faint from sorrow and boredom, but all that can turn around in an instant to beaming dancing joy. A knight leaving darkens the skies and is an end to all good feeling; his return that very night is a cause for feasting and celebration. I'm surprised everyone survived these massive shifts and fits of emotion without keeling over.

10. Oh, I have lots more thoughts about this and that, but this list is already long, so I'll just leave off here. ( )
6 stem andreablythe | Jul 11, 2013 |
Teaching Yvain right now for an independent study. Will return to this review when I do this in a classroom setting, this summer. ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Chrétien de Troyesprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Agrati, GabriellaRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Carroll, Carleton W.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Comfort, William WistarOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Kibler, William W.Introduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Kibler, William W.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Magini, Maria LetiziaRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Owen, D. D. R.Introduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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This entry represents works containing all five Arthurian romances: Erec and Enide, Cligès, Lancelot, Yvain, and Perceval.
Please do not combine it with works containing a selection of romances, or with collections containing additional works sometimes attributed to Chrétien de Troyes.
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Chretien de Troyes was a French poet in the late 12th century whose work represents some of the best examples of Arthurian legend from medieval times. Contained in this volume are the four complete Arthurian romances that have survived. The first of these stories is that of "Erec and Enide", which recounts the story of Erec, one of King Arthur's knights, and the conflict between love and knighthood he experiences in his marriage to Enide. The second romance is the tale of the knight "Cligès" and his love for his uncle's wife, Fenice. The third romance is that of "Yvain, the Knight of the Lion", in which Yvain seeks to avenge his cousin Calogrenant, who had been defeated by an otherworldly knight. Lastly is the tale of "Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart", which centers on Lancelot's rescue of Guinevere, King Arthur's queen. These classic medieval poems form some of the earliest and most prominent examples of the legend of King Arthur.

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