This immortal tale concerns the doomed love between a knight and a princess — one of the great romances of medieval literature, along with that of Lancelot and Guinevere. The heroic Tristan, nephew and champion of King Mark of Cornwall, journeys to Ireland to bring home his uncle's betrothed, the fair Iseult. Their shipboard voyage takes a tumultuous turn with a misunderstanding and a magic potion, and the lovers quickly find that there's no turning back. This version of an enduring theme in Western art, literature, and music consists of a seamless weaving of many medieval sources into a captivating narrative, complemented by Hilaire Belloc's eloquent translation.
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"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...
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...
"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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