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Marie de France

Teoksen The Lais of Marie de France tekijä

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Tietoja tekijästä

Tekijän teokset

The Lais of Marie de France (1190) — Tekijä — 2,237 kappaletta
Medieval Fables (1980) 107 kappaletta
Marie de France: Poetry (2015) 35 kappaletta
Romanzi medievali d'amore e d'avventura (1957) — Tekijä — 25 kappaletta
Le Lai de Lanval (1958) — Tekijä — 21 kappaletta
Fortellinger (1982) 7 kappaletta
Favole (2006) — Tekijä — 5 kappaletta
Novellen und Fabeln (1977) 4 kappaletta

Associated Works

The Canterbury Tales [Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed.] (2005) — Avustaja — 632 kappaletta
The Penguin Book of Women Poets (1978) — Avustaja — 299 kappaletta
Erotica: Women's Writing from Sappho to Margaret Atwood (1990) — Avustaja — 168 kappaletta
A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture (1986) — Avustaja — 158 kappaletta
Masters of British Literature, Volume A (2007) — Avustaja — 21 kappaletta
Arthurian Literature by Women: An Anthology (1999) — Avustaja — 19 kappaletta
Fairy Poems (2023) — Avustaja — 16 kappaletta

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Kanoninen nimi
Marie de France
12th Century
12th Century
short story writer
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Not much is known about Marie de France except that she is the first identifiable female writer in French. Her name was signed to a number of "lais" or short verse tales, a collection of moral fables containing elements of satire, and some translations of Latin texts into French, as well as the poem/novel, The Legend of the Purgatory of St. Patrick. She was one of the most creative and effective storytellers of the Middle Ages. She's called Marie de France after a line in one of her published works: "Marie ai num, si sui de France" ("My name is Marie and I am from France."). Some historians believe she was a daughter of King Louis VII or the Comte de Meulan. Alternatively, she may have been an illegitimate daughter of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, and thus a half-sister of King Henry II of England. She appears to have lived part of her life in England.



To be clear: I read the David Slavitt translation which is available free http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120228

The style is really easy to read and has a good rhythm to it, with only a few weird words. The stories are solidly entertaining - like well written folktales - and my first read in the chivalric style. What stood out to me most is how almost every story feels like it features adultery from men who are, of course, highly chivalrous and virtuous. It's hard to tell what level of humour it's operating on sometimes when the guy says "oh let's go back and murder your husband" or (ending description/spoiler for the last tale, but it's such an incredible ending) the chivalrous guy conveniently doesn't mention to his new lover that he's married, takes her on a ship back to France from Albion, when a storm hits and one of his entourage says "this is a sign, this happened because you've done wrong" he MURDERS THE GUY while his lover faints in confusion. He thinks she's died, lays her to rest in a holy place, wife discovers and manages to revive her. Lover still claims he's virtuous despite acknowledging the deception. Wife is then like "oh this is chill, just let me become an abbess by giving me some land and you can marry her", he does, they get married, they live happily, then at the end THEY BOTH TAKE HOLY ORDERS, THE LOVER IN THE SAME ABBEY AS THE WIFE! AND THEY TRADE LETTERS AND ARE ALL VERY HAPPY. it's fucking great i love it

I would say this book has enhanced my understanding of chivalry as about a bunch of dudes who are horny all the time. Thank you
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tombomp | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 31, 2023 |
14. The Lais of Marie de France
translation: from Old French by Glyn S. Burgess & Keith Busby, 1986
composed: circa 1170, maybe for Henry II of England
format: 134-page paperback (2003 edition)
acquired: library book read: Mar 28 – Apr 2 time reading: 6:10, 2.8 mpp
rating: 4
genre/style: medieval literature, theme random
locations: Brittany, Devon and Wales
about the author: unknown, but the lais themselves say Marie.

Medieval love tales from French Brittany translated from Old French verse to English prose. I requested this from the library after reading about [Matrix] by Laura Goff here in Club Read and on Litsy. I think someone said forget the novel, read the Lais and that stuck. Anyway, it's a tiny book. There are twelve Lais, found amongst four manuscripts. They were possibly written for Henry II of England around 1170. Lengths vary, but they average about 10 pages each (ok, 7.167 pages). These are all love stories with knights and damsels and tragedy. Fun stuff. They come with a prologue and each story has its own tiny prologue, in first person. Most of them say something like, "I relay to you the Lais of so-and-so, as told, of old, by the Bretons." The first opens, "Whoever has good material for a story is grieved if the tale is not well told." Another opens discussing how one should go about presenting a new story.

This is charming fun stuff. Easy reading in this Penguin edition.

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dchaikin | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 5, 2022 |
Marie de France is considered the first woman known to write francophone verse. Who she was is not really clear (it is not even clear if she is called Marie - even if her lais say so or that she was a woman really). But the current scholarship holds that she was a woman and has some ideas of who she may have been ranging from the French Henry II sister to the countess of Boulogne and Marie de Meulan. Based on her writing, she was born in France but spent a lot of time in England (which does not narrow the field of possibility as much as you would expect). Depending on how old a book about her is, you can see different claims about what she actually wrote - the lais collected here seem to always be considered hers but the Fables (translated or composed), "The Legend of the Purgatory of St. Patrick" and the newly tentatively attributed "The Life of Saint Audrey" had not always been connected to the author of the Lais. And I was thinking that we have a problem in our times with shared names of authors...

But what is a lai? In the case of Marie, a lai is a short (for some version of short) narrative poem, written in eight-syllable verse. They are an old French form, known and popular before Marie and they are a cousin to the longer romances to come later (which are more collections of adventures than single works). Just like the romances, they deal with heroes and what happens to them although with them being much shorter, they are more stories of things happening to people than of people going on adventures. The shortest of these 12 poems is 118 lines; the longest is 1,184 lines.

The order of the collection is not always clear - there are a lot of partial manuscripts, the order in the surviving ones seems to be almost random so in a lot of cases the editors decide how to order them when they are published. The editors of the Penguin edition used the order of the Harley manuscript (which also contains the prologue) and made a decision to translate the poems in prose.

That may sound weird but it is not unusual - most of the narrative poems, from Antiquity to nowadays, had seen prose translations. And the translations actually read like tales so even if I would have preferred a verse translation (and I may decide to chase one of those at some point), I liked the flow of the stories. Plus when you do not need to try to keep the rhythm, you have more freedom in words and expressions choices that actually fit the poem you are translating.

The poems themselves were not what I expected. There are damsels in distress and heroes but... there are also a lot of people cheating on their spouses and thinking about cheating (and not always being punished about it, especially if the husband was much older than the bride). There is a tale about a werewolf. There was a lot of implied sex (including a maiden who got liked so much by a man that she got pregnant). There are a lot of happy ends and most of the people who do good things get awarded for them but that did not always happen. The heroes usually got the girl but not all of them got to keep her. As with most of the medieval writing I had ever seen, there were usually the moral lessons to be learned by the tales but some of them may not be what you would expect in the 12th century. But there are also tales which end up in a way you hoped they won't ("Les Deux Amants" for example).

I picked up the book because of two of the lais connected to the Arthurian myths: "Lanval" and "Chevrefoil".

"Chevrefoil", which happens to retell an episode of the Tristan and Iseult mythology and is the shortest of the 12 lais, was a bit underwhelming besides the lyrical part somewhere in the middle of it which used the honeysuckle and hazel symbiosis as a metaphor for the love between the two lovers and spent some time expanding on that (thus the title of the lai meaning "Honeysuckle").

"Lanval" went into a direction I did not expect it to go. The knight Lanval gets in love with a fairy lady and because of that he refuses the advances of King Arthur's queen thus getting her very angry at him. When she cannot produce his lover (because she had broken the promise never to mention her), he gets in a real trouble - until he gets taken to Avalon at the end. Apparently this story was very popular and got retold a lot so I suspect I will meet Lanval again while exploring the Arthurian myths development. The poem mentions the Round Table explicitly as well - showing that it had become part of the Arthurian myths by the time the lai was written.

But I am happy that I read all of them and I will probably be returning to them (in a different translation) - I am curious to see how these work in verse even if the prose translation was pretty good.

One more note on the edition: the introduction is very useful for putting things in context, giving you some pointers on what to look for in specific poems... and telling you how the lais end, even when the end is surprising. Which is fine if you know the stories but very annoying if you don't. But it is helpful as a guide before you read them so... I am not sure if I would say to leave it for the end or not - I wish the editors (who are also the translators and wrote the introduction) had split it into two parts - leaving the text analysis and the spoilers for the endings for for the end of the book. But that's a common problem with introductions.
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AnnieMod | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 2, 2022 |
I don't know a lot about Medieval French poetry, but I can definitely see why the mysterious Marie de France is so well known among medieval writers. Her stories (written in the form of lais/lays) are both entertaining (who doesn't like romanticized knights) and are a definitive product of her time. Obviously the stories are quite outlandish, but we can actually tell quite a bit about how people living at her time were. Twin pregnancies could have definitely been perceived as omens of infidelity to the uneducated medieval minds, some amicable divorces may have been possible, and scheming wives were likely all par for the course. Obviously some of the subtlety and proper rhythmic format is lost in translation (and likely altered by this specific translator's substantial ego), but the poems were still quite enjoyable to read.… (lisätietoja)
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JaimieRiella | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 25, 2021 |



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