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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Affordable, but not comprehensiveMarch 8 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This translation of Elspeth Kennedy's groundbreaking edition of the original, short-form romance of Lancelot Do Lac is extremely helpful to readers interested both in Old French medieval romance and Thomas Malory and his sources. The Prose Lancelot went on to become the centerpiece to the massive Vulgate or Lancelot-Grail cycle of romances which spanned the tale from the arrival of the Grail in Britain all the way to King Arthur's passing.
This version, however, is centered solely on the youthful adventures of Lancelot - how he was raised in the magical Lake, came to Camelot to be knighted, fell in love with the Queen, and made a name for himself while in her service. It covers the discovery of his name and his intense friendship with Galehaut, a man who literally gives up everything to secure the friendship of the title character. This early version of the story ends with Galehaut's death, and is not linked to the begetting of Galahad, the quest for the Grail, or the eventual fall of the Round Table.
The other drawback is that, in order to keep the edition inexpensive enough to meet the needs of the student, those segments of the romance not directly concerned with Lancelot (including a large number of adventures of Gawain, Hector, and Bors) are dealt with in short summaries rather than full translation.
However, until the full cycle is available in an expensive paperback series (the full Lancelot-Grail cycle was recently translated by a team of scholars, headed by Norris J. Lacy, as Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Cycles in Translation, but only in hardcover at an outrageously scholarly edition price) this will fill the need for at least a taste of the original Lancelot story.