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The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph…

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (1900)

by Joseph Bedier

Other authors: Béroul (source)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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What a fantastic thing Joseph Bédier did here, reconstructing this story in 1900 from ancient French poems and other sources. The tale is of the brave young knight Tristan, and the fair lady with the ‘hair of gold’ Iseult, and it’s complete with honor and romance, battles with dragons, magic philters, court intrigues, and daring escapes. Tristan is bearing Iseult across the sea to wed his King, when the two inadvertently drink a love potion that binds them forever, and leads them into adultery. Bédier’s language is enchanting, and adds to his storytelling. What a beautiful image Tristan conjures of a crystal chamber, between the clouds and heaven, filled with roses and the morning, where he would like to take Iseult. How well he describes everyone seeing the “Love terrible, that rode them”, as they simply can’t be apart. There are moments that are far from PG, such as Iseult’s loyal maid pretending to be her and slipping into the King’s bed to sacrifice her ‘purity’ to him, in order to conceal Iseult having lost hers to Tristan, as well as Iseult being turned over to a mob of lepers who want to “have her in common”, but in general the story is told with great restraint, despite a plot containing such passion and violence. If you’re looking for a classic medieval tale, this one’s for you. ( )
1 vote gbill | Jun 20, 2017 |
Listened to this on Librivox and it was beautifully narrated but very confusing because there were so many characters. This is one action packed story. It's supposed to be this great romance but Tristan and Iseult didn't fall in love, they had a spell cast on them so is that a romance? ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Listened to this on Librivox and it was beautifully narrated but very confusing because there were so many characters. This is one action packed story. It's supposed to be this great romance but Tristan and Iseult didn't fall in love, they had a spell cast on them so is that a romance? ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (1913; 12th century), Drawn from the Best French Sources and Retold by J. Bédier; Rendered into English by H. Belloc (5 stars)

Six-word review: Very old, very beautiful, very rich.

Read this medieval romance for its beautiful language and for its place in our history.

I purchased a paper copy of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, the 1913 translation by Hilaire Belloc, so I could enjoy it in comfort, away from anything that plugs in. I grew up reading stories like that, written like that, alongside the King James Bible.

Some of the most beautiful English in existence is in the King James version of the Bible, released in 1606. For poetry and cadence, a well-told medieval tale comes behind it, but not by far. The marvel of the Belloc treatment of Tristan and Iseult is not only that someone could still write like that in the twentieth century or even that it could still be published--because in 1913 there was still a traditional very high literary standard--but that a hundred years later someone is keeping it in print. It begins:

My lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and of death, here is that of Tristan and Queen Iseult; how to their full joy, but to their sorrow also, they loved each other, and how at last they died of that love together upon one day; she by him and he by her.

The story tells how heroic Tristan, sent to fetch the fair Iseult as bride of his uncle King Mark, unwittingly shares a love potion with her. The two are thus powerless to resist an adulterous affair, forcing them to deceive good King Mark and draw down calumny upon themselves. What happens then and how it all turns out are not just part of the story but part of our heritage as speakers of English.

You can also find this work online, thanks to Project Gutenberg:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14244/14244-h/14244-h.htm#link2H_4_0005 ( )
2 vote Meredy | Dec 30, 2015 |
THE love story of all love stories. ( )
  JessLJones | Sep 10, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bedier, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Béroulsourcesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belloc, HilaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colum, PadraicIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Rougemont, DennisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fónagy, Ivánsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ghelber, MarinaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hegedüs, Istvánsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loke, MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oppenheim, Annie L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paris, GastonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riba, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riquer, Martí deForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenfeld, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simmonds, FlorenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuyvaert, VictorIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
von Numers, LorenzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Long ago, when Mark was King over Cornwall, Rivalen, King of Lyonesse, heard that Mark's enemies waged war on him; so he crossed the sea to bring him aid; and so faithfully did he serve him with counsel and sword that Mark gave him his sister Blanchefleur, whom King Rivalen loved most marvellously. (Belloc/Rosenfeld translation)
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Disambiguation notice
The Bedier adaptation and its translations. Do not combine other versions of the legend here. Bedier used Beroul as one of the sources in his speculative reconstruction but Beroul is not to be considered a Main Author of Bedier's version.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679750169, Paperback)

The story of the Cornish knight and the Irish princess who meet by deception, fall in love by magic, and pursue that love in defiance of heavenly and earthly laws has inspired artists through the centuries. But nowhere has it been retold with greater eloquence and dignity than this edition, which weaves several medieval sources into a seamless whole.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

THE ONLY COMPLETE AND DEFINITIVE eBOOK VERSION OF JOSEPH BEDIER?S FRENCH CLASSIC AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH ALL of Hillaire Belloc?s omissions? more than 10,000 words, missing (suppressed) from all other electronic English versions of the translation? have been beautifully restored in this FONTHILL PRESS eBook and the hardcover editions. ADDITIONALLY, only here will you find: Gaston Paris? original Preface Joseph Bedier?s milestone essay on French elements of the story Vincent Nicolosi?s luminous introductory notes on Celtic aspects of the legend of Tristan and Iseult.… (more)

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