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3.7 out of 5 stars
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
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on August 22, 2001
"The Romance of Tristan & Iseult" is one of the foremost chivalric myths of all time. A rich mosaic of the human experience, embroidered with colorful gothic elements like spell-weaving dwarves, love potions, magical bells and even a particularly monstrous dragon, "Tristan & Iseult" is the tale of a heroic knight from fabled Lyonesse who falls madly in love with his King's betrothed through sorcery. Neither Tristan nor his Queen-to-be can resist the magic that possesses them both, and they cannot help but fling themselves headlong into an affair that shakes the very foundations of the Arthurian world.
More than a mere "love story," this is a philosophical exploration of the human soul. Are Tristan and Iseult really guilty of adultery? Do they have a free will? Do they truly love each other, or is their affair nothing but a sorcerous delusion? Is King Mark the villain of the story, or is this a tale beyond conventional heroism or villainy?
Readers familiar with the Arthurian legend will quickly draw parallels between Tristan and Iseult and Lancelot and Guinevere, whose tragic love brought Camelot to its knees. Indeed, Malory cites Tristan (whom he refers to as "Tristram") as a knight of such prowess and nobility that he is second only to Lancelot himself--and a close second at that.
If you are a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, this is the book you've been looking for.
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on July 1, 2001
I would not have read Bedier's translation of "Tristan and Iseult" on my own. Throughout my degree, and my previous highschool education, I've come across "Tristan and Iseult" in four different forms before Bedier's, and was so tired of the tale that I thought no one would breathe life into it again for me.
Not so.
Bedier's translation (which was then translated by Hilaire Belloc and completed by Paul Rosenfeld) has repainted "Tristan and Iseult" into a truly living piece of mythology. Presented with exquisite detail, and with portions of the story even my four previous readings had never uncovered, this is, I believe, how the tale was meant to be told.
The achetypal doomed-romance, "Tristan and Iseult" is the well-known tale of the romance between those two lovers, born of a magical philtre, and doomed in the face of Iseult's marriage to King Mark. The age of chivalry practically shines from the pages, and the heart-wrenching story itself is a joy to read, with only a few bumps and jolts of prose along the way (likely, I imagine, translation difficulties).
If you are at all interested in mythology, especially that of Arthurian theme or times, Bedier's translation of "Tristan and Iseult" is the one for you. You won't be disappointed.
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on January 17, 2001
Wow! This is a story that will touch your soul! Bedier takes the reader away into a mythical world of lords and ladies, dragons, giants and fairy bells... In addition, the story of Tristan and Iseult challenges common concepts of loyalty and love. How can Tristan claim loyalty to King Mark when he commits adultery with his wife? And how can the lovers be blamed when they fell in love through deception? Is God really on their side? I felt so many emotions when I read this. Indeed, I felt a sort of revulsion and yet, admiration for the hero. And finally, despite the lovers deaths, I realized that love does conquer all.
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on March 30, 2001
Here is a complete English translation of the Tristan and Iseult Romances that we have been able to find. That in itself makes this book a valuable work of literature.
What I enjoyed most about the Romances is the unreality of it all. You feel like you are somewhere else, somewhere magical and vicious, somewhere beautiful and bloody. This is the setting for the courtly love traditions.
I also enjoyed the challenges the books presents: Is there repressed homosexuality between King Mark and our hero, Tristan? What can Tristan's dog teach human beings about loyalty and love? What issues exist in a world of both love and violence, and why are the two so closely connected?
This is a great social commentary as well as an entertaining Romance. While the text reads quickly and seems simplistic, there is a lot going on under the surface.
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on September 11, 2002
Ever wonder why we are consumed with being "in love", having that passionate lust, courting endlessly for the unattainable blissful love? Tristan and Isuelt is where it all began, with more that 1,000 European versions from Brittany to France. This book is a captivating mystical story about the passionate side of love. Tristan, (meaning the child of sadness) a Nobel hero and Isuelt, the Irish Princess, engage in a love that is so intoxicating and absolute. After consuming a "love" potion, the two spend all their energies on being together, facing various barriers they overcome to attain the pre-destined love.
This book demonstrates that the positive thing in love is self-transcending - takes you beyond yourself and gives meaning to your life. Maybe somewhat obsessive and short in duration, but deep and exhilarating, larger than the self. When love ends it's remembered as a magical interlude, permanently in the memory of the mind which constantly plays back.
This version by Bedier and Belloc is an exciting, hi-paced read, that will make anyone fall in love with being in love. It touches on a note that Passionate Love really has little to do with the norms of society.
Beautifully written and a joyous read.
One person found this helpful
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on January 5, 2003
As a high school student I had to read this book. Looking at it and seeing the theme, I initially snickered ... until I started reading page one. The story just blew me away. The reader will really start feeling for these lovers, and enjoy the love and drama that unfold.
I look forward to reading it again.
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on December 30, 2003
I had to read this for a history class and thought I woult dread it, but it is a very nice love story - way better than Romeo and Juliet, and did reflect the changing view of romantic love in literature of the time. I will be keeping it in my library instead of selling it back to the bookstore - and that says a lot!
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on April 2, 2000
Some of these old texts can be made very dry, mundane and boring in the modern translations. This book moves fairly fast and is written in a way that is both engaging and palatable. I didn't want to put it down! The Vintage Classics version is definately worth it.
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on November 12, 2001
"The Romance of Tristan & Iseult" is the tale of one of the earliest pairs of star-crossed lovers in literature, heavily researched and drawing from many versions of the story. Having come across the tale in many forms, from the opera "Tristan und Isolde" to cameo appearances in "The Mists of Avalon," this telling is refreshing and spirited. The authenticity of language, as well as the narrator's own action and moral interpretations make one feel that they are sitting near a fire in the great hall listening to a seneschal tell the tale of doomed love.
"Tristan & Iseult" is fast-paced and beautiful. It is also an invaluable tale to read as an example of the archetypes and symbols of the tragic hero, imbedded Christ imagery, woman on a pedestal, etc.
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on October 14, 1998
Although this novel is light in nature for the most part, there are times when the forever human struggle of Love will move the reader deeper and deeper into the story. The reader should find themselves rooting for the doomed loves, Tristan and Isluet, throughout the adventure. At times there are tremoundous action scenes, with a well written interactions between the two lovers at the heart of the story. If you love someone deeply, you should enjoy this boook.
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