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The Song of Roland by Anonymous

The Song of Roland

by Anonymous (Author), Turoldus (?) (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (17)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (20)
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The Original Western European Romance. Probably penned around 1099 or so. The Hero is valiant, and the historical accuracy is very poor. But as an artefact, it shows the beginning of popular entertainment in the Crusading West. I prefer Sayers' translation to the more recent Penguin by Glyn Burgess when I'm reading for the fun of it. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 22, 2014 |
I had to read The Song of Roland for medieval lit, mostly because it's an epic of the period, while the other medieval texts are all romances -- I assume that later we'll have to make some comparisons and draw some contrasts. It's interesting to me because of my background with the classical epics -- it reminds me very strongly of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Obviously, they're all oral poems, designed to be memorised and performed, so in terms of language there's a lot of similarity, but there's also a similarity in the heroes -- the honour thing, for example, Roland shares with Achilles: it's better to die with honour than anything else.

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it, really. It's very easy to read, in this translation at least, and though the tense shifts in a way that should be awkward, the flow is quite easy to go along with. The descriptions are very... colourful. Which is to say, I winced at certain parts -- like Roland's brains seeping out of his ears, and Ganelon being torn into pieces.

Another interesting thing for me is the portrayal of the pagans, and the way it's been twisted from real history. The "otherness" of the pagans has been highly emphasised -- although also some of them are shown to be good knights so that they're actually a worthy opponent for Charlemagne and Roland to face.

Very interested to know what more my lecturer has to say about this poem. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Looked over a few of the other reviews. Look, folks, it's not a romance, and it has nothing to do with 'courtly love.' It's the chanson de geste. Not a romance. Nothing erotic going on here.

Given that the earliest ms is in Anglo-Norman, kept track this time round of Charlemagne's involvement in England.

I do wish, however, that I had assigned Burgess's trans. Curious to have a go with it. The use of 'race' in this one seems a bit off. ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
Canção de Gesta do século XI. Ficcionalização da batalha de Roncesvales, repleta de erros históricos, mas muito interessante. A vaidade que o impede de tocar o olifante é imperdoável aos olhos modernos, mas quase cavalheiresca. Se ele fosse um grego antigo, seria sua falha, aquela que perde o herói. Ao invés disso, ele toca o olifante não pra pedir ajuda, mas por querer vingança.
É muito humano. Carlos Magno é impressionante humano, é um imperador, um guerreiro, mas também um homem velho – embora na vida real tivesse 36 anos, no livro tinha mais de 200. O final é lindo: “Right loth to go, that Empereur was he: / 'God' said the king 'My life is hard indeed!' / Tears filled his eyes, he tore his snowy beard.” ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Once one gets past the clear religious bias of the poem, it really is a fun read simply for what the poem can tell us about the people of medieval Europe. From a history of war stand point, the code of chivalry depicted here is very interesting. The honor system in this poem gives the reader a glimpse back into the past. Well, not really a glimpse into historical accuracy, but perhaps into what medieval French Christians valued at the time. It also allows one to imagine how armies, leadership, and diplomacy were conducted. Roland timed his horn signal, not so that he could be reinforced and win, but so that the King would witness his death, and thus be enraged to reenter the entire Frankish army with the pagans. Sacrifice for honor. So many of the heroes in The Song of Roland, do not want to be insulted after they die. Above all, they want to die with honor. That is what was valued. This of course all requires a very strong belief in an afterlife which rewards self sacrifice. A very useful tool for leaders who need their soldiers to stand their ground.
I really enjoyed this translation by Charles Kenneth Scott-Moncrieff. It's almost as fun reading aloud as Fagles' Illiad. There is also a very good introduction and great illustrations in this newly published Folio Society edition. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Jan 31, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
AnonymousAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turoldus (?)Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bedier, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bengtsson, Frans GTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bensi, MarioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, Glyn S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, Glyn S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlstedt, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duprez, LeifTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gautier, LéonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, DickForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jylhä, YrjöTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luquiens, Frederick BlissTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordenhök, JensTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robertson, Howard S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott-Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segre, CesareEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smyth, Nathan A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terry, Patricia AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Way, Arthur S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Carlon the King, our emperor Charlemayn,
Full seven years long has been abroad in Spain...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140440755, Paperback)

Presents the classical epic, glorifying the heroism of Charlemagne in the 778 battle between the Franks and the Moors. Bibliogs.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:53 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Presents the classical epic, glorifying the heroism of Charlemagne in the 778 battle between the Franks and the Moors.

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