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Arthurian Romances Paperback – Mar 21 1991


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle; New edition edition (March 21 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460870653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460870658
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 20 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,857,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Although he didn't invent the Round Table or the tales of its fellowship, the twelfth-century poet Chrétien de Troyes was the first to recount in verse the adventures of Arthur's knights. He is also chiefly responsible for establishing the importance of the Arthurian legend in European literature and assuring its survival into modern times. This sensitive translation of Chrétien's verse narratives features four romances, including those of Erec and Enide, Cligés, Yvain, and Lancelot.
Erec and Enide's tale illustrates how honor can be restored to a troubled relationship through acts of public duty. Cligés' tale involves a forbidden relationship, in which a knight falls in love with his queen--who is also his uncle's wife. The story of Yvain explores the effects of long-term absence on a questing knight's marriage. Lancelot's adventure, the rescue of Guinevere, is Chrétien's enduring contribution to the tradition of Arthurian myth. The version included is a principal source of Mallory's popular Le Morte d'Arthur. Lively and accessible, these four romances form the most complete expression of the ideals of French chivalry by a single author.
Dover (2006) republication of the edition published by E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1913.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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The peasant in his proverb says that one might find oneself holding in contempt something that is worth much more than one believes; therefore a man does well to make good use of his learning according to whatever understanding he has, for he who neglects his learning may easily keep silent something that would later give much pleasure. Read the first page
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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 15 2006
Format: Paperback
Chrétien de Troyes is an early French romantic writing, who wrote the first known story about the Holy Grail. De Troyes lived in the Champagne region of France during the latter twelfth century. Peripherally attached to courts including that of the famous Eleanor of Acquitaine, de Troyes stories of the Arthurian legends provides a foundation for almost all future Arthurian stories.
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.
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By A Customer on July 29 1998
Format: Paperback
This book was translated from the old French oddly, perhaps too literally, and the result is that sometimes the fact that it used to be in verse form gets in the way of the story. Most of the time, though, the stories are the fun and gripping legends Arthur-enthusiasts will love.
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By A Customer on Feb. 1 1999
Format: Paperback
I found the book to be fascinating, even for a person without a background in the classics. I felt the translation was fine, overall a very smooth read. I would highly recomend it to anyone with an interest in Arthurian legends.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. J Nelson on Sept. 9 2003
Format: Paperback
Got it for school, but I'm not too big on romances so maybe I'm biased. I'm trying.
It's a pretty good story...actually a set of stories written by this Troyes guy, all about everyone except noble King Arthur. Gotta buy a different book to get the sword in the stone story. Great for in depth details on the romance-period view of the barbarian Arthurian story, and even better for writing a detailed paper on it.
If you're into Arthurian stories (and already know the story lines of the main story but want more on the offshoots and the only-mentioned-once characters like Yvain) this is a great book for you! Not good for people who don't know the story. Watch the disney movie first for some background or read the Mists of Avalon (long but good).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Early Arthur Oct. 8 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Chretien de Troyes is an early French romantic writing, who wrote the first known story about the Holy Grail. De Troyes lived in the Champagne region of France during the latter twelfth century. Peripherally attached to courts including that of the famous Eleanor of Acquitaine, de Troyes stories of the Arthurian legends provides a foundation for almost all future Arthurian stories.

Chretien's major works include four poems included in this collection: Erec and Enide, Cliges, 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 Cliges is one of tricky and forbidden relationships. Cliges, a native of Greece, falls in love with Fenice, his uncle's wife (Cliges' uncle happens to be the emperor). Their love is discovered, but with the aid of King Arthur, their relationship continues in Cliges' home country of Greece.

Lancelot's story is one of the oldest ideas from the Arthurian legends - the rescue of Guinevere when she is taken captive. This could be done in a chaste and honourable way, but the tale of Arthur has both virtuous and dark elements. Even though this story comes from much older antecedents, de Troyes telling (with the possible additions by a later writer) became the standard Lancelot-Guinevere tale, being the principal one incorporated into Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

The story of Yvain is one of romantic questing - Yvain is gone so long on his knightly quests that his wife refuses him to return home. However, with the aid of mystical powers (the lion is an otherworldly creature that symbolises knightly virtue - C.S. Lewis will develop similar symbolic material much later) he returns to his wife after going mad with despair at being barred from her.

Perceval's story is that of the classic search for the Grail, which is also considered now a standard part of Arthurian legend - however, it is not clear that de Troyes was working from earlier stories here.

William Kibler provides notes, an introductory essay, and an essay tracing the history of revisions and continuations to the Grail story. This is fascinating reading, and a must for anyone interested in the Arthurian legends.
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating book Feb. 1 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found the book to be fascinating, even for a person without a background in the classics. I felt the translation was fine, overall a very smooth read. I would highly recomend it to anyone with an interest in Arthurian legends.
41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Odd translation, but moving stories July 29 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was translated from the old French oddly, perhaps too literally, and the result is that sometimes the fact that it used to be in verse form gets in the way of the story. Most of the time, though, the stories are the fun and gripping legends Arthur-enthusiasts will love.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Drawing legends from legends, conventions from myths Oct. 7 2007
By Robert Fripp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
D.D.R. Owen, late professor emeritus of French in the University of St. Andrews, states of his translation that he kept "the needs of students" in mind. For that reason, Owen tells us, his "renderings...incline towards the literal." In other words Owen's translation of Chrétien of Troyes's "Arthurian Romances" shuns poetic and literary licence. Decide what you want. This is a scholar's book, a dry literal translation from twelfth century French of original tales that were too long to start with. General readers may find it dull.

Near the end of his substantive Introduction (which itself makes a useful essay for students of Chrétien's times) Owen comments that "Chrétien has bequeathed to us a brilliant portrait of the society that gave him his livelihood." That's true, but these romances set up portraits that will seem "brilliant" only from a scholar's perspective.

Chrétien's productive years spanned 1170 to 1182, the very pinnacle of chivalry -- and of chivalry's unlikely twin, courtly love. Chrétien was an eye-witness, working in the halls of noble patrons, observing and recording the highest values of the culture of his time. He wrote "Lancelot" around 1177, dedicating it to Marie of Champagne (Eleanor of Aquitaine's eldest child), and bringing the world the first mention of Camelot. By 1182, Chrétien was introducing the Holy Grail in "Perceval: the Story of the Grail." Before he won fame under Marie's sponsorship, one wonders if Chrétien had made his observations about the conventions of courtly love and chivalry earlier, at Eleanor's Court of Ladies in Poitiers (1168-'73). Owen was too much the perfect scholar to speculate, but we can. "Arthurian Romances" contains much that Chrétien absorbed from an influential source, a royal hall replete with courtly traditions, poets and bards. This book is a struggle, but it can be rewarding.

By Robert Fripp, author of
"Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Okay for a prose translation March 18 2014
By J. Marlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been through this text now several times for private reading and for teaching classes on Arthur specifically and medieval studies generally.

This book affords very good prose translations of Chretien's romances, from which both I and my students profited. The notes and introduction are quite sound. But something is clearly lost when verse is lost. I understand full well that there are serious complications when translating from the verse of another language into English (which has its own maddening complications, starting with its bizarre irregularities), but I sense something is lost, terribly lost, when the stories are not presented in verse.

While they will cost you a good bit more than this volume, there are very fine verse translations available both from the U.Ga. press and from the Yale U. press.

So a sensible strategy for the Arthurian seeker or scholar would be to start with this modestly priced volume and then move on to the verse translations.


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